Why Technical Salespeople Struggle to Sell

Why Technical Salespeople Struggle to Sell

Do you often wonder why technical salespeople struggle to sell? 

By technical salespeople I am referring to Sales Engineers, Consultants, Professional Services, Medical Salespeople, Advisors and anyone that has spent years learning their profession or trade. They are now tasked to sell to their ideal target market as they have specific industry expertise and credibility. 

In the past 25 years I have been in sales, I have observed the trials and tribulations of what it takes to transition from a technician into being a highly effective salesperson. I have first hand experience and appreciation as I personally transitioned from being an industrial Electrician for the first 10 years of my working career into a Sales Star, literally.  Now if I can do it, anyone can do it. 

So What is the Secret? 

First and foremost you need to understand what prevents technical people from being effective at selling.


Here are my top three observations:  

1.  Mindset

Most technicians don’t consider themselves as salespeople.  Sales often has a negative connotation. We often think of ‘sales’ as being pushy as we may have had a bad experience of being sold to by a stereotypical salesperson. 

Here is the good news, sales is not about being pushy or manipulative, it is about being client centric and serving your clients in order to add value. 

We need to change our paradigm as to what sales is. So instead of thinking of sales as a negative word, we need to reframe our thinking to sales being a positive thing you do to help others and add value to those you serve.  

2. Sales Process 

When I got off the tools and into sales I felt I was not being productive. As an electrician you can see what you have done at the end of the day, as a new salesperson all I felt I  was doing was having conversations with people and getting nowhere. Then years later I realized that sales is a process and you have to recognise what part of the sales process you are in i,e Prospecting, Discover meeting, presentation, closing.  Once you understand these key milestones and how they relate to a sales pipeline, then you can start to build momentum. 

Whenever a company underperforms in sales  I always ask “Is it the people or the process”?   More times than not it is a process issue, or lack thereof. 

Every company should  map out their unique go-to market sales process, when you can get clear on the specific milestones in the process it enables people to follow it, and they can also draw confidence in knowing they are following best practice. 

3. Methodology 

Common mistakes technical salespeople make is that they are heavily dependent on “Relationship” selling and/or  “Feature and Benefits” selling. 

The problem with these two methodologies is that having a good relationship is table stakes and does not always win you new business.  Most products these days have similar features and benefits and therefore it is difficult to differentiate your product and servicing offer, therefore leading the conversation to price! 

Technical people have a tendency to talk about the product too early in the process. They often fail to ask great questions to truly understand the client’s compelling needs. 

A Consultative Selling methodology is founded on asking great questions about the client, goals, challenges and outcomes.  Understanding not only what they want but more importantly why they want it, is the key to selling on value.  

For more insights on Consultative Selling click here  

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