Making IT happen
By Chris Harvey, Chief Revenue Officer, Four Inc.
The goal of this blog series is to provide helpful hints to help new federal sales representatives achieve their sales goals. We hope this post will provide you with a fresh perspective that helps you elevate your pitch above the competition.
As a salesperson, your pitch needs to stand out and make your product shine above your competitors. Otherwise, you may find yourself searching for a new job sooner than you think. As a CRO, I have the distinct pleasure of meeting many sales representatives who are new to the federal marketplace. I’ve heard their pitches, often in formal briefing settings, but I also hear them as informal elevator pitches. In both cases, lately I am seeing a potentially over-used strategy that may dilute your real value message and actually group your product into a broader more competitive grouping. I am seeing this more and more with new reps selling into the federal marketplace.
The biggest trend I’ve noticed is that newer sales representatives are continually pitching IT industry buzzwords as the differentiating factor of their companies IT solution. For example, ZeroTrust, AI, ML, customer experience, and Automation references are actually turning what should be compelling sales pitches into mere verbal sales brochures.
I recently attended a product briefing where every slide referenced Data Science. It’s perfectly OK to state what industry segment your solution fits into and why it’s a significant player of a rapidly growing market, but this can’t be the basis for your pitch.
In this case, the actual product value proposition was it could identify every hardware component and where it was originally manufactured. This seems like a critical capability for a customer who is worried about the security and integrity of that particular products supply chain. I only know this core capability because I did my own research. The issue in this case is that during the product briefing, all I really heard was Data Science is solving this complex supply chain problem. What I didn’t hear was why their technology can solve this complex problem better than anyone else, with fewer human resources and/or less money. It seemed to be a very powerful tool that solved a very specific problem, but why it performs better over the rest was never mentioned in the product briefing.
Let’s explore a little on how the rep ended up in this situation. I have a guess on how we got here.
In the past decade, software and hardware manufacturers’ product messaging has become easily accessible and showcased on their website and social media accounts. This readily available information can often present a mental “easy button” for sales representatives to rely and count on.
However, it is important for all sales reps to consider that corporate websites and social media marketing may aim to attract a much broader audience. This audience can be potential investors or wall street analysts who are more enamored with the buzzwords.
Corporate marketing doesn’t always align with field sales marketing. Reps should be able to distinguish between corporate marketing and messaging that is tailored to their target audience. This requires representatives to have an understanding of the specific needs and pain points of their prospects, as well as a clear understanding of how their product addresses their needs. You must be able to effectively communicate why they should use your product, instead of heavily relying on the use of buzzwords – that just doesn’t get you there.
Your product can help with ZeroTrust? So does every other cyber product! Give your customer more….
Here are some suggestions to make the most of your sales pitch.
1. Focus on the problem: Highlight the specific problem your product/service solves for the customer.
2. Show value: Explain cost savings, improved efficiency, or increased security that your solution offers.
3. Use specific case studies: Provide a relevant example of how your solution has been used successfully by a similar customer, within the same market segment. If you are selling into the federal government, use a federal use case – pretty simple.
4. Emphasize mission impact: Show how your solution can contribute to mission success.
5. Distinguish from competition: Highlight unique features or capabilities that set your solution apart.
By taking these steps, you will be able to clearly convey the value of your product or service to the federal government and set your solution apart from the competition.
Best of luck to all the new federal sales reps out there - go rock those pitches!