The way technology teams buy products has fundamentally changed. They don't trust marketers. They're tired of being burned by promised features that don't function or don't exist. If you sell to technology teams, it's time to reconsider your entire approach.

Think pull instead of push.

In the past, marketers pushed promotions through traditional tactics (white papers, webinars, slides). Today, the less interaction with sales and marketing teams the better. Instead of listening to pitches, technology buyers ask trusted peers for advice. They expect a try before you buy model that is self serve.

The new model of sales is about building trust instead of pitching features. 

Time to find new channels

Don't waste time typing emails. One CTO I know receives over 400 unsolicited sales emails a week. He doesn't open a single one. Traditional channels are too noisy to be effective.

Instead, technologists are swapping notes on new channels you may not even be aware of. These include specialized subreddits, Slack channels, even Discord chat rooms.

In order to find which channels are right for you, ask your current clients where they discover new products?

Building Trust Takes Time

Start reading those forums. Before you post anything, keep in mind that members of those communities can smell a sales pitch a mile away. They're allergic to it.

Instead of trying to sneak a pitch into a post, start building trust over time. Write comments that offer practical help without any expectation of generating leads. Ask genuine questions about how members solve problems relevant to your product. These should be real world examples that you or someone on your team has personally experienced.

The purpose is not to start a sales cycle. It's to better understand the frustrations they face; how they evaluate options; and what has not worked in the past. That level of detail allows you to speak with both empathy and authority.

It provides you with the credibility to approach prospects as peers.

Seduce, don't sell

Your goal is to make technologists want to try your software. But the way to do that is not through slide decks filled with sales buzzwords.  

It's by doing one of these three things:

1. Reveal the magic trick

Solve a genuinely complex technical challenge then explain how you did it in a technical blog post. Work closely with your engineering team to share enough detail that the audience feels like they're in on the secret. It's the same reason why everyone loves to learn how magic tricks work.

This example from Segment demonstrates the style and substance of a great post.

2. Give people a selfish reason to use your product.

In theory employees want to save their team time or money. But they care a lot more if you eliminate their own repetitive, tedious and frustrating tasks.

3. Show, don't tell.

Seriously. The most powerful demos strip out all the value props, sales positioning and just show what the product is capable of.

This early demo of Twilio is a great example of how effective that approach can be.

Technology sales teams think that their goal is to persuade prospects to purchase. They're wrong. In the future, the most effective sales teams will focus on establishing credibility and helping prospects objectively evaluate the merits of their product.

Published on: Oct 17, 2017