While many newbies think that the IT sales process ought to use freebies as a lubricant, or accelerant of the sales cycle, catering to freebie-seekers can be an enormous time and resource drain.
In this article, we’ll look at how to tell if your IT sales process has become overly-dependent on freebies.
The Root Cause
This freebie-dependency problem typically starts because many rookie account managers at technology providers confuse free initial consultations with needs analysis meetings.
But what the IT sales rookies fail to consider is:
In this dual role, can you really navigate the enormous conflict of interest (making what appear to be professional recommendations that your commission depends upon) and still be objective and thorough?
Are you shortchanging your company by giving away too big of a “free sample?”
The All-Too-Common Scenario
Here’s the situation. You get a call from an insurance agent that you met at a cocktail party last month. This person is interested in having your firm install a premise-based server to network together five Windows-based PC’s in the office.
Prospective Client: “How much will it cost?”
Consultant: “What do you need?”
Prospective Client: “I don’t know.”
Consultant: “It sounds like you need a consultation.”
Prospective Client: “How soon can you get here for a free consultation?”
While you may not have intended to offer a free consultation, because so many people associate those two words together (“free” and “consultation”), the moment you offered a “consultation,” you inadvertently set yourself up for IT sales process friction, stress, and doom.
Can you honestly say that going to meet with this prospective client, doing the walk-through, researching the products and specs, and writing up a short two or three page proposal isn’t at least a half-day of work?
Drawing the Line in the Sand During Your IT Sales Process
Should this consultation be provided for free?
Your time is your inventory. You only have so much of it in a given week.
There’s a good chance this insurance agent is going to take your specs and get other quotes, possibly “low balls” from unqualified or marginal sources.
Why should a potential client get the advantage of your free technical savvy and give the business elsewhere strictly based on price?
Planning something as basic as installing even a single server is often a small project in and of itself – and this planning overhead must be factored into your IT sales process.
Resist the urge to give this professional advisement away.
In most corners of the globe, the demand for the types of high-end professional IT services that your firm provides is clearly stronger than the supply.
Still not convinced?
Have someone from your office try calling a few of your local competitors, posing as a desperate end user with a crashed server.
When is the earliest that the firm down the street could provide this emergency service? And at what billing rate?
How does your firm charge for initial consultations with new prospective clients? What’s the best way to handle this in your IT sales process? Please share your tips, hints, and war stories in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free copy of the special report on 7 IT Sales Secrets for Attracting High-Lifetime-Value Clients.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Alan O'Rourke
Topics:- B2B Sales Strategy