Because of the multitude of stakeholders typically involved in closing a business-to-business (B2B) sale, selling technology to businesses is a complex process. For early-stage technology start-ups, selling B2B is doubly difficult since both the technology and the company are new to the market.
Understanding the nature of technology sales is key to managing successful sales processes and sales organizations. Entrepreneurs must involve themselves in sales from the start to appreciate both how customers relate to the offering and how the sales process unfolds.
Factors that characterize the complexity of B2B technology sales
The more stakeholders involved, the more time will have to be spent both preparing and conducting sales calls. Often stakeholders from various departments will be involved, which may introduce a degree of political maneuvering into the stakeholder management process.
The less familiar businesses and potential customers are with your technology, the more time you will have to spend educating them. They will need to understand your technology, its inherent advantages and how well your company has mastered it.
The presence of choices
B2B technology sales usually involve a number of decisions on the parts of both customer and seller. These decisions relate to the final delivery of your offering and any implementation process involved.
Every technology sale is unique, due to different customer organizational and technological environments. Sellers must learn how to recognize these differences and determine how they will impact the sales process.
Lack of track record
In addition to the factors above, early-stage technology start-ups have little or no track record. The technology being introduced may also be radically new. This means that entrepreneurs must devote more time and effort to credibility-building activities during the sales process than would otherwise be necessary.
Because of these complicating factors, successful B2B technology sales depend heavily on your company’s capacity to build and maintain personal trust.
Become great at sales. Check out our free Selling for Entrepreneurs online course. It provides over two hours of expert sales instruction designed for startup founders who want to lead sales and accelerate company growth.
Heiman, S. & Sanchez, D. (1998). The New Strategic Selling. New York: Warner Books, Inc.