Tech sales is a competitive field because there’s a lot to gain. Total comp for a sales rep selling enterprise software can be anywhere from 10% to 25% of their quota – and equal about half of their overall compensation. More new categories of tech sales are emerging constantly, consumer tech sales have increased 23% year-over-year, and B2B tech sales are booming. Because tech is an industry with such great potential, reps are clamoring to have a stake in it.
If you want to succeed in tech sales, there are four key attributes you should focus on (and all of them can be learned and developed):
1. Be a great listener (and listen first).
This is true for many sales verticals but especially true for technology sales. The reps who listen first, rather than being the ones to talk, are the consistent quota crushers. Why? Because not many companies or people buy anything unless they have a problem. In order to understand that problem, and how your services or solution can solve that problem, you have to listen to their story and thoroughly understand their situation.
You might have a phenomenal product, but if it doesn’t align with the needs of your prospect (or if you’re focusing on the wrong use case in your sales pitch), you’ll lose the sale. By listening first, you will close larger deals more consistently. Most sales reps are actually talking more than they believe they are (65–75% of the call). But the top-producing B2B sales professionals speak 43% of the time (on average), allowing the prospect to speak 57% of the time.
2. Be a great written communicator.
Both written and verbal communication are critical to sales success. Tech Sales can be ultra-competitive, and the difference between winning and losing a deal can (surprisingly to some) come down to your written communication skills.
Why? Because the sales process today is ultimately driven by email. In order to even get a phone or video meeting with a prospect, you’ll often have to win them over with an email first (or text or LinkedIn message). In fact, eight out of ten prospects want to talk to sales reps via email over any other medium. All sales reps need to be able to clearly communicate in writing.
The best way to improve your writing skills is to run your email pitch by someone else before you send it; make sure you run all your emails through a grammar and spelling check; or invest in a business or sales writing course.
3. Be detail-oriented.
Attention to details can differentiate great sales professionals from the average sales professional. This is typically a trait that goes hand-in-hand with good listening. The ability to focus on the small details is critical and can provide the advantage you need to win and have sales success.
Look for the details in every step of the sales process – an introductory conversation, presentation, proof of concept and/or negotiation, etc. You might hear information that helps you hone in on the specific product or service feature that will best help the client, or you might take note of a previously unknown personal connection that creates rapport. The small details are often overlooked by average sales reps and could be your golden ticket.
4. Be inquisitive and curious.
Great reps seek to understand first and foremost, and they come prepared with smart questions. They are prepared. They’ve researched the prospect/client and are very rarely caught off guard. They dig a little deeper on each conversation to truly understand their client’s situation – and they do it all in a way that’s sincere and authentic. Sales success takes more than a commitment to closing deals. Great reps are interested in the individuals involved in the relationship, not just the business or deal they are working on.
There are plenty of tech sales reps who are moderately successful pushing products or services. But the top 1% of reps sell a solution that solves a client’s problem. In order to do that, you must incorporate the characteristics from above: Listen, ask questions and focus on the details.
By focusing on these attributes, you become proactive instead of reactive, in your engagement, follow-up, support and closing. You become the rep who is consistently driving the next step in a deal process. You “make it happen” – whether that’s an initial conversation, a follow up call, contract negotiation or even a legal review.