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How to be successful at B2B technical sales? The start-up and scale-up approach

SUMMARY

The B2B technology market is highly competitive and demanding since customers have high expectations in tech solutions. Dealing with techies is no easy task, especially if they are part of start-ups, which have more constraints than established companies. Here are the tricks to nail your approach.

Selling in the B2B technical market can be arduous. It is dynamic, competitiveness grows at a scorching pace and the stakes are very high because customers have high expectations. Technical sales is the point of convergence between business and technical sciences, a very complex interaction that requires business development representatives (BDRs) to bear in mind some of the peculiarities of the environment.

The sales cycle in the B2B technology market typically lasts from several weeks to many months because the implementation of tech solutions often have a strong impact on business. For this reason, the buyer will require demonstrations, evaluations and consultations as part of the service and, therefore, the "solution selling" approach is often more successful and preferred over the "product selling" approach.

For BDRs to present themselves as consultants who can alleviate a customer's struggle with a technology solution seems to be a safer bet in today's scene. However, this is only half the battle. Succeeding in B2B sales requires more effort, and a big part of that is about being able to deal with technology professionals

Flick quickly through the menu and discover the key takeaways to succeed at tech sales!

Why are tech sales so complex?

Selling to technical professionals is no easy task. Tech experts tend to feel little connection to the business world, so to engage them in a sales conversation, the BDR has to serve as a hinge

There is a widespread fear of technical professionals and it is not unreasonable. Throughout their training and careers, tech professionals ‒engineers, scientists and other technical executives‒ acquire very complex and specific skills that make them particularly difficult sales targets. But making a tech sale is not an impossible goal. Here are some tips that will help you define your approach. 

1. Take an advisory-approach  

The gulf between the world of technology and the world of business can seem very wide to many techies. As a BDR, you need to present yourself as the partner they didn't know they needed in the business world. So, to engage them in the conversation, make sure you feel comfortable with their way of thinking: isolate the cause of their problem, think out of the box, be analytical and logical, and put facts on the table. 

It is crucial that they see you as a consultant, not a vendor. By doing so, you will reduce the tremendous risk that the engineer will see you as the smarmy business person they don't want and don't know how to deal with. It is vital that you pay extreme attention to the words you choose to construct your pitch, because they are used to a very academic and technical language. You need to master their technical language and understand the depth of the topics they are discussing

2. Serve as a resource   

For you to not hinder the conversation and lose the sale right at the start, introduce the deal as a cross-functional conexion, an opportunity for innovation for their company. Do research on their field, their business, their pains, and the events that can generate a potential sale opportunity. Get to know their world from the inside and speak to them from the knowledge you have gained, justifying how you can make their jobs easier. And remember: they want facts, numbers, and more facts. 

However, don’t even try to make them think you are as well-versed in technology as they are. Don’t be afraid to ask solid questions to learn more about their business and perspectives on your solution. This proves that you are genuinely interested and trying to reach a fair and honest agreement for both parties.

3. Get ready to answer questions

Tech professionals are very much data-driven so, before they reach an agreement with you, they have to validate your expertise. They have highly structured minds and naturally and constantly question themselves, so they will do the same with you. Therefore, you need to make sure that you are prepared to be tested intellectually and professionally. 

Talk about your value proposition, how your service can bring value to their business and describe how your solution is cost-effective and will make their business work more productively and efficiently. In short, talk about what you know and explain to your prospect how your solution can solve their problem based on data. This is how they will begin to see selling as a necessary innovation opportunity. 

How to grow your B2B technical sales: the start-up and scale-up approach

Selling technology in the B2B market requires a deep understanding of the technology being sold. Tech solutions often involve major transformations within organisations, so the buyer will most likely require monitoring, evaluation and assessment of your service. But there is another thing that BDRs have to take into account: the type of company buying the product.

Start-ups and scale-ups are very interesting targets for B2B technology sales because they are often part of the high-tech market. The business models of such companies are largely based on technology and innovation, which makes them valuable potential customers for technology suppliers.

The only difference between start-ups and scale-ups lies in the stage the company is at in the process of developing their business. While start-ups are an important target for tech B2B sales companies because they are looking for new resources that will help them grow, they have the disadvantage that their budget is somewhat limited. Although this could complicate the sale, the negotiation is a good opportunity to peak their interest and generate the need to buy.

If the lead is not a perfect fit, you can always nurture it, follow up frequently and prepare the sale for the future. Follow up frequently, ask them how they are doing with their current solutions, find out whether they are looking for ways to improve their performance and be aware of the events that can cause a sales opportunity.

One step beyond start-ups, there are scale-ups, the ideal type of buyer in technical B2B sales. A start-up becomes a scale-up when it has proven its viability and is ready to grow exponentially. They have high-tech characteristics and are at a more advanced stage of business development than start-ups. Thus, they seek to grow in terms of market access and revenues and look for partnership opportunities with established companies. 

How to sell tech to scale-ups?

Scale-ups are at a stage where they are "executing" their business model and looking for ways to achieve a reliable technical sales pipeline. They are fast-growing innovative companies ready to implement solutions to reward their investors, and this makes them a necessary resource for scaling your company's B2B tech sales

Scale-ups grow exponentially because they already have tested and established a business model that works and have investors willing to provide financial resources. When selling tech solutions to one of them, it is key that you take into account their peculiarities and follow certain steps. Here are some key points to consider.

  1. Scale-up companies have more stable funding, however, because they are expected by investors to make money, they could be more reluctant to try out new ideas. The key to selling tech solutions to a scale-up is to empower your customer and be diligent. They want to add value to their business immediately because they are in the last stage of growth before becoming an established company, as they already exist in a solid business ecosystem. They want to feel that your solution is a safe bet. 
  2. Therefore, as a BDR you need to make the sale and their experience easy by providing them with tutorials and ensuring that you are available for them for consultation and evaluation. Be explicit on how you’re making their everyday life simpler with your solutions putting the facts on the table. 
  3. A major risk scale-ups face is to grow in an unbalanced way and lose the sense of unity that is characteristic of start-ups. Therefore, it is a good idea to approach your sale as a unitary and collaborative growth opportunity.

Final thoughts

Even though selling tech solutions can be arduous, it is not an impossible goal. Selling to small businesses, such as start-ups and scale-ups, is more like selling to customers than selling to enterprises. It is worth investing time and effort in getting them to create a personal connection with you and your product. However, you should never forget the importance of being data-driven and structured when you are dealing with a techie. 

Optimising your sales funnel and reducing the number of steps your customers have to take to get to purchase is a must, especially when dealing with small businesses.

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