Common Sales Mistakes for Technology Companies

17 February 2014 by Charles Howden

What are the three most common sales mistakes for technology companies?

There may be more, though this is our shortlist of the most common problems we encounter when we start working with early stage technology companies.

If you are in this position, consider these:

1) Thinking it’s all about the technology (and not what problems it solves)

When you are developing new technology, the focus really is on the technology, though even as you are achieving this, remember that ultimately customers buy products that will solve their problems. If you cannot demonstrate how your product can achieve this, you may have a sales problem coming down the tracks…

Your marketing and sales drive should focus on raising awareness in your target market that those problems are business critical, and that your technology is the most reliable and cost effective way to solve them.

2) Thinking it’s about their story – and not their prospects

Given the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it can take to develop and bring new technology to market, it’s understandable that the focus may be on “how we got here!” Except that most prospects couldn’t care less, rather, they only care that your product will work as well as you claim, and that you can provide post-sales support for them should they need it.

Take a look at the style of your sales and marketing messaging. Is it written in the first person, around “we”, “I”, and “us”? Or is it written in the second person, from a customer’s perspective, using “you”, “your”, “yours”?

This may sound inconsequential, except that the first approach leads to a transactional sales model, and the second, a consultative one. Given that new technology generally requires a consultative sales model, which type of messaging would you rather start your sales process off with?

3) Underestimating the length (and complexity) of sales cycles

Dividing the total cost of your sales activity, by the number of new accounts won, or planned to be won, gives you the unit cost of achieving a sale. How adequately does your sale price reflect this cost? How many unit sales in what period of time do you need, to make you numbers stack up?

It’s hard enough to do these numbers in an established business environment though for a startup, with no previous data to fall back on, it is especially difficult. One thing you should be sure about though. Whatever your reasoned assumptions, you can be sure that your first sales will take longer to work through the pipeline than you had ever imagined.
There are others we could add. Here are three: Not fully understanding their value proposition. Failure to fill their sales funnel early enough leading to an over reliance on a few sales prospects who should convert (except they don’t!) Inability to manage the sales process because they haven’t mapped one out, with mini-milestones to measure progress by.

All of these are avoidable, and fixable problems, thought they may take time, which you’ll know is the one resource that really can be scarce!

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