Sales success is centered on building a strong foundation and making a lasting impression on the customers you interact with. The customer contacts made will open connections to other people in their network, if you have gained their trust and brought value. In the ever widening realm of enterprise architecture to create new processes and technology recommendations that deliver business value, the enterprise architect is the keystone of a successful practice. It’s this position that creates value in the enterprise architect for those with products, services and most importantly solutions to sell.Following are some simple and practical tips to expanding your customer network and prospects.
- Start strong and confident: I don’t just mean with the “win friends and influence people” strong handshake and eye contact, but keeping your foot in the door will require effort. As a Cisco representative the enterprise architect’s first thought will be to direct you to the network closet down the hall. You’ll have about 30 seconds to convince them to give up an hour of their time to talk to you, so have a killer pitch.
- Listen to them: Your killer pitch is to get you into the door, but don’t hijack the time you’re given. Understand the architect’s hot buttons, their frustrations, what makes them tick and most importantly- empathize with them.
- Ask questions: After an answer is given, have them go into greater detail. Ask open-ended questions that move the conversation forward. Build a rapport and understanding.
- Do your homework Fundamental to becoming a trusted adviser. When you’ve invested time and effort into understanding their business and pain points, right away a level of trust is established. Even better is when you’re able to bring new ideas and value to the customer with your perspective.
- Know your customer’s customers You need to be able to sell what they sell. Enterprise architects are accountable to many different organizations and if you arm them with information and solutions they can then sell you’re helping them do their job more effectively. If you help them build their business and meet their goals and objectives, they’ll help you meet yours.
- Offer additional resources: As a Cisco representative you’re focus is only some of what the architect needs. Bring in or reference resources with other areas of expertise. Architects need to prioritize and you may not always be first, but going out of your way to assist them in an area outside of what you sell will keep you connected and raise your priority.
- Keep your network strong: Surround yourself with people the architect would want to meet. Make introductions to peers in other areas. Enterprise architecture is very much a peer network and the contacts you keep will tell your customers a great deal about your integrity and value.
- Be true and be open: Don’t try to spin your way through a tough question or represent yourself as more then you are. An architect will see through the facade and see you to the door. If you don’t know, you don’t know and the truth is appreciated. If you don’t know and can use your network of contacts to find an answer or put them in touch with somebody who can help, you’ve just become more valuable and your level of trust has just been elevated.
- Follow up and follow through: Time is of the essence and architects are project driven. If you’re going to have an answer by a certain date, then have the answer. Then come back at a later date and see how things worked out, find out the results and metrics, maybe suggest new metrics for success. Have a postmortem with your architect after a project is completed. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll learn even more about their needs.
Nothing really new here, it’s all common sense. It’s about offering compelling business value and differentiation, but framing it in the context and language that architects know and understand. Followed by the move from simply pushing tin to becoming a trusted adviser with relevant business solutions.