How Technology Salespeople Lose


CyNexLink Blog   •   August 9, 2017


Sales strategy and the sales process within the MSP, telecommunications, cloud, and software industry is often gritty and always a war of attrition between equally valuable competitors.

During the technology selection process, where companies must decide upon a managed service provider or IT professional, what are the reasons why some evaluators rejected certain salespeople over others?

The knee-jerk response from many will be that the salesperson in question did an inadequate job at persuading or presenting his product, or that the product itself was faulty and an incorrect fit for the prospective client.

But research from thousands of technology sales transactions conducted at the C-suite level, and interviews with hundreds of chief technology officers reveals quite a different reality, as evaluators often “ranked all the competing salespeople and [their products] as being roughly equal” – says foremost ‘sales linguistics’ expert Steven W. Martin.

It is most often the case that realities completely unrelated to sales rep ability or prowess would come to sabotage the chances for a contract to be won.

Incumbent Advantage

No matter how persuasive a sell or how unique a business solution may be presented, many companies who field new offers will end up sticking with their existing technology provider simply because of peace of mind and trustworthiness. Here, the only way to wrench an incumbent vendor out of his comfortable spot would be to directly criticize his product and show why yours circumnavigates the same trouble.

C-Suite Access

Major purchases relating to managed services and professional technology solutions usually require C-suite level approval. Thus, the ever-present hurdle facing sales reps is their ability to penetrate the relevant C-class person, and, according to Martin, “there is a direct correlation of winning to the number of interactions the salesperson has with executives during the sales cycle”.

Presenting a Tailored and Ideal Solution

It is very often the case that both the winning and the losing salesperson carried a rigorous grasp of their feature service. Knowledge of the offered service and the sales rep’s ability to apply that knowledge to remedy existing problems is roughly similar for losers and winners. What distinguishes most winners, however, is their ability to study closely the company’s holistic needs and tailor a solution which seems exactly ideal for the circumstances.

Inadequate Presales Resources

With the rise and proven excellence of inbound sales and marketing services, sales reps advancing with hot leads must consistently refer back to and coordinate with a presales expert who knows the company’s needs intimately. Today’s complex sales process demands a robust team effort, with on-call presales experts and online presales resources co-developing a company’s trust alongside outbound sales reps.

An insight from the Harvard Business Review states: “Souping up the presales engine can yield a five-point improvement in conversion rates, a 6–13% improvement in revenue, and a 10–20% improvement in the speed of moving prospects through the sales process.”

Incompatible Pricing

In the end, smart evaluators consider price to be important, but not zealously so. Pricing most often comes second to organizational fitness and compatibility. However, there are general principles which govern acceptable and unacceptable pricing schemes: the lowest and highest bidder will usually lose the contract, while those who price their services 10-25 percent above the lowest market rate are usually selected.

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