Does IT Consultant Need Sales Skills?!

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Does IT Consultant Need Sales Skills?!

"It is not your customer's job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don't have the chance to forget you", Patricia Fripp.

Although someone may think that selling skills are far from duties of IT consultant, I believe, on contrary, it is a core skill for successful one. However, the degree and depth of utilization depend on the role of the IT consultant either a developer, designer, architect, project manager, engagement manager, etc.

In every day, IT consultants are creating and developing proposals. Those proposals could be solutions, new design, new way of coding, new architecture, etc. Each proposal aims to convince your audience with your deliverables. Actually this is a selling process!

How far you are skillful in selling your ideas, determines how far you could achieve success in your job. In this post, I will try to lay out some sales skills and principles that could help anyone and specially IT consultants in their achievements. In this post, your audience could be your customer, manager, employer, colleague, etc.

Search for a Value

Do not rely only upon your technical knowledge. You need to utilize this knowledge to fulfill your audience needs, show perspective, and add value. Instead of talking about features, you need to search for a value that could be interpreted from audience perspective such as cost reduction, time saving, increased quality, etc. This will make your argument more sounding.

If you want to SELL an idea, the first advise would be DO NOT SELL. Instead show value sincerely.

Create a Dialogue and Build Rapport

You need to follow a customer-centric approach where you listen as well as you talk. You need to build a consultive personality and to be a trusted advisor for your audience (customer). Listening and educating yourself about your audience is a crucial skill. You need to build a rapport with your audience.

An example for a conversation opening that builds a rapport and sets a purpose of the dialogue. “Samy, I know how important this project for you and for the organization (1). I appreciate your valuable effort you put into this initiative (2). Building a corporate portal is a challenging job (3). I’d like to learn more about your project (4). I have some ideas regarding this project that could leverage its benefits such as …(5)”.

Statements (1), (2), (3) are directed into rapport and building relationship. Statement (4) is preparing for your proposal. Statement (5) is the value proposal. Do not jump directly to the value proposition without building rapport in order to have a smooth introduction.

Listen Effectively

Effective listening enables you to show interest, connect with your audience, and gain full understanding of audience requirements. It is very important to notice voice tones, body language, and emphasis. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. You need to maintain good eye contact with your audience (do not look downside during conversation).

Check for Audience Feedback

This is one of critical skills that you need to sharpen. Take care that silence does not mean audience agreement. Feedback provides you a chance to refine your message. Ask explicitly for audience opinion.

Do not Negotiate too Early

Do not be hurry to start getting into negotiation for applying your proposal until you make sure that you understood audience requirements. If an audience makes demand, you need to go beyond this demand to understand the need. Please remain consultive and do not go into adversary trap with your audience otherwise this will distract your messages.

I hope this would help.

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Comments (2)

  • Mohamed Abdulaziz Khaleel Reply

    AA Mohamed, Execellent Article but I always have difficaulties to apply it in the Governmental environment.

    Thanks for your efforts.

    March 13, 2011 at 7:20 am
    • Mohamed Abdel Moneim Reply

      AA zizo – thank a lot. You are right government environment is different from other private sector enterprises.
      From my humble experience with givernment I can say that the VALUES we consider presenting to them is different from what they perceive.
      We usually as IT consultants focus on deliverying (and selling) technical values while they expect more than this.
      Government customers value the following:
      – Learning – they expect from you to educate them. They appreciate very much certificates,
      – Glossy prestige – you need to provide them this prestigious look and do not ever underestimate them,
      – Credit – they want to have all the credit and you need to hide behind (this credit could be price discount – additional scope – etc.).

      All of above is inherited from governmental environments characteristics and how you get promoted and your career path within government.

      very good point.

      Best Regards,
      Mohamed Abdel Moneim

      March 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

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