"How to Sell to Senior Management"
Newsletter October 10, 2013
Selling consulting services can be difficult and frustrating because sometimes the decision
-makers do not fully understand their technological needs and parameters. In addition to preparing for your presentation, try the following tactics to improve your chances of closing the sale.
1. Involve the senior managers.
Most IT departments have the discretion to use their budgets as they see fit. However in smaller companies, the CEO or COO may get involved. Make sure you have the client’s IT person’s complete support before you approach the senior managers. The IT team wants to see more investment in their area, so they are potential "champions" inside the client company. Don’t forget to help them with the key selling points, so that they can also lobby the top management with clear and compelling reasons as to why the company needs your service or product.
2. Don't meet alone.
For the key "Yes" or "No" meetings, always arrange to meet with IT and senior managers together. You want the managers to see their own IT department's enthusiasm, as you present your consulting benefits. IT's presence will also provide the managers the opportunity to clarify any confusion or questions immediately.
3. Develop an industry timeline.
Although managers understand that technology changes rapidly, they may not realize how their operations can be affected. Demonstrate your firm's awareness of the industry's technological progress and the innovation you are anticipating in the future. Pointing out the "opportunity cost" of non-action is always a useful perspective, when asking people to spend money with you. There is a cost to delay or being supplanted by the competition and it is useful to bring this to the attention of the client, in case all they can see are the numbers related to the immediate spend.
4. Use case studies.
Most senior managers are bottom-line oriented. It is a good idea to develop case studies that display how much savings your consulting services has brought to your clients. Steer clear of technical details and focus on what happened. Did you create a system, which stored and backed up data electronically, thus eliminating paperwork? Case studies can get to the heart of a senior manager's concerns more than technical information. Word pictures are needed to add zest to the dry details. Talk about how the happy clients felt about seeing their business improve rather than just reciting statistics.
5. Simplify your technical data.
Most senior managers grew up before computers were on your desk. The jargon can often be meaningless to them. Without appearing to be condescending, explain the facts simply and clearly, as though you're talking to someone who is computer literate but only just. Remember the majority of people are users and want to understand things from that perspective. Technical terms such as milliseconds may be irrelevant to them. Try using phrases such as "twice as much" as other products; substantially reduced delays; or lower down time.