Software sales reps still manage to make the simplest errors and offend potential customers in the process.
IT executives claim they are increasingly unhappy with the performance of sales reps pointing out they often have excellent knowledge of the technology they are selling but show little regard for the businesses they want to sell to.
With little attempt being made by salespeople to adapt to customer’s business requirements, customers are now crying out for vendors to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and try to understand their needs.
A recent survey by US technology research and marketing firm Strategem found that of 138 IT executive respondents, more than 67 percent said salespeople generally possess good knowledge of their product but fewer than 15 percent of sellers were rated as 'excellent' in understanding buyer's needs and requirements.
Canberra Institute of Technology IT support manager Mick Sharp agreed providing recent examples.
“Because we’re part of ACT government, we’re covered under an ACT tender process. This salesperson recently rang me up and was trying to sell me software, not understanding the tender process and simply trying to pressure sell,” Sharp said.
The vendor, Sharp said, made no attempt to understand the environment his department works in or listen to explanations.
“Most salespeople try and push a product, not even knowing if it will work in our environment. They don’t even attempt to understand our requirements,” Sharp said.
“It’s like the old selling from a script – if we give one answer, they go one way, if we give another answer, they try a different tactic.
“These people should be a bit more personal, there’s nothing worse than someone coming in and doing a pressure sell, and simply not listening to a word you’re saying.”
Another irritation for customers is when salespeople try to push a certain way of doing things based on available features and functions, ignoring questions from the customer, who has their own organization's demands to consider.
Illawarra Retirement Trust systems officer Stuart Edney finds this a problem.
“Often they’re pushing software that locks you into a particular interface, without considering the other systems in place in the company,” Edney said.
“Vendors should be frank about the weaknesses of their products, most of the time they don’t even address them even when they are pretty obvious. And when you question them on these weaknesses, they simply tell you they’re going to be addressed in the near future, or some additional feature will be available in a year's time.”
Like Sharp, Edney believes salespeople just aren’t considering the needs of the buyer.
“They probably don’t appreciate or understand the limitations that businesses have in regards to cost,” Edney said.
“If I was going to understand a business unit, I would spend some time in that business unit to try and get a feel for it. But a lot of vendors aren’t willing to do this, they think they have a one-stop solution that will solve everyone’s problems.”