By Mr. Usman Hassan Khan
Director, Skills Engineering, Lahore.
I cut my teeth as sales personnel in a highly competitive industry and continued running sales and marketing for several high tech companies. And while no article or book, for that matter can really teach you how to be a great salesperson, I can definitely share some interesting insights that took me a while to figure out.
In Pakistan, selling an engineering product is an art because you have to come across with people relating to engineering products and services who on one hand are highly skilled and technically well versed and on the other, have limited knowledge primarily based on assumptions and far from being practical.
Our electrical markets are mainly run by people who adopted this profession because of family owned business. They have been trained to understand commercial aspects of a product more than the technical aspects. Role of Industrialist, Contractor and Consultant are often done by those who have no professional expertise in their relevant fields. It appears as a very complex proportion for an entrepreneur to create equilibrium between technical and commercial aspects in order to execute effective sales plan of an engineering product.
I have thoroughly observed that even very seasoned entrepreneurs struggle to understand necessary protocols an engineering product demand to make a clear and long lasting impression in the industry. As a developing nation, we exist in a perfectly competitive market, but no entrepreneur wants to sell a product in a hard way, rather they want results in haste by avoiding all the ground realities which sales team has to face.
My article is not only for young individuals who want to build a career in Sales & Marketing of engineering products and services but also for those entrepreneurs who want to figure out what is exactly required to run a successful engineering venture.
Let me highlight do’s and don’t’s of delivering a sales pitch.
Do you need to be an engineer to sell an engineering product: My answer is ‘No’. Every engineering product has some technical features which remain constant as long as the product or certain technology exists. However, commercial aspects i.e. Inventory, Costing etc. vary on regular basis and are determining factor in securing sales job.
Market Segmentation: First and foremost factor in achieving sales results is Market Segmentation. Identify various market segments you can target and formulate different sales strategies for each segment depending upon your product range, product specifications, financial strength and inventory maintenance. Implement 4Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place & Promotion) intelligently to get best sales results.
Selling is a marathon, not a sprint: Selling is a process – an often long and lengthy one. The bigger the deal, the longer it takes and the more hoops you have to jump through. On the plus side, you will have more time to build a solid foundation for an enduring relationship. If you want to be the last one standing at the end, don’t push too hard in the beginning.
Give a little, get a little: Selling is a game of give and take. If you do it right, you give a little, get a little and repeat the process over and over.
For Example: After providing general information about your product, you might ask the customer to tell you about their requirement, so that you can determine if there is a fit? On the other hand, if you have shown all your cards at once and then they say “not interested”. It means you have provided tons of information and got nothing in return.
Don’t Showoff how smart you are: I have been guilty of this myself but make sure your customer does not care one bit what you know. He just wants to know if you have got the solution to his problem. So Listen.
Know whom you are talking to: It is important to know whom you are meeting, what their roles are, what motivates them and how to approach them. By doing this, you can come up with a sensible strategy – but that comes with experience.
Approach right person at the right time: Cold calling is not a very attractive option in our industry. Once you have identified a right person and that there is at least a possible fit, and then go for it. Otherwise, you will come across like a dummy, waste precious time and maybe even harm your reputation.
The biggest challenges that normal sales people have in selling engineering products is overcoming their fear of technical professionals – their fear of being called out on what they don’t know about their product, service or platform. As a result they call on customers who don’t stretch them intellectually or professionally. They stick to repeat customers and use scripted and customized sales spiels. Once they get the order, they breathe a sigh of relief that they got out of the engineer’s office unscathed. As a result their customers are status quo – and so is their sales method, because they play it safe.
If you are selling to technical professionals, you need to do your homework. I would suggest you talk to your internal technical colleagues. Become comfortable with their way of thinking which will help you in business development.
Everyone wants to be a tremendous success. It takes time and tremendous amount of proactive planning and risk to achieve your goals. Adopt a disciplined approach to your start up so you can truly enjoy your success.
Mr. Usman Hassan Khan can be reached at Mobile: 0300-8439354