High-Tech Selling:
Is It Really That Difficult?

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2004

Selling high-tech products and services is much more difficult than selling most other products and services: Truth, or just a popular myth?

Selling anything that is not a known commodity can be difficult.  However, most of the difficulty is created by salespeople themselves.  Here are some of the reasons why high-tech Sales seems so difficult - and how the typical selling process just reinforces that myth.

  1. Most salespeople are unable to describe their product or service clearly and briefly enough.

    Most people take 20 to 30 seconds to decide whether they want what the salesperson is selling.  Prospects get frustrated and annoyed at the salesperson who doesn't communicate with immediate clarity.

    An effective prospecting offer should ideally be about 45 words.  It takes many top salespeople about 2 hours to design an effective and concise prospecting offer.  Most salespeople don't even know where to start.

  2. Pressing prospects for an appointment before they are ready to buy greatly reduces the probability of ever getting the sale.

    Most salespeople believe that they should convince any prospect that has an apparent need for their products and services to buy.  However, most prospects are not ready to buy the first time that the salesperson calls.  Driven by the mistaken belief that they should be able to convince the prospect, the salesperson presses for an appointment.

    The best route to ultimate success is to call each prospect every 3 to 4 weeks until they are ready to specify or buy your type of product or service - limiting each prospecting call to a maximum of 45 seconds.

  3. Premature selling efforts leave a lasting negative impression, and dramatically reduce the odds of ever doing business with that prospect.

    'Forced' appointments and communications result in closed sales less than 14 percent of the time.  When feeling pressured, prospects who don't commit to doing business on the first visit are even less likely to ever buy - then, the probability of ever getting the sale drops to 5 percent.

  4. Most high-tech salespeople first approach a prospective customer at the end-user level in the organizations that they sell to.

    Most line managers don't have the authority to buy - they are 'influencers' who recommend.  They usually don't have access to the funds, either.

    The top 1% of the salespeople we studied usually initiate their sales process at the Vice President level.  That requires a specifically tailored approach.

  5. High-Tech salespeople are fascinated with the features and benefits of their products and services.

    Most prospects only want to know what your products and services can do for them.  If they determine that what you have is what they want, they will want to know how your particular product works - the features.  Most salespeople honestly - and mistakenly - believe that prospects need to be educated before they can make an intelligent decision.

  6. Most high-tech salespeople focus on concrete product specifications and ignore their prospects' two primary motivators - trust and respect.

    In High-Tech sales, a common mistake is to deal with prospects on the basis of specifications, good presentations, logical arguments, convincing documentation, and factual economic justifications.  Most prospects - including engineers and senior managers - have different motives.  Their first priority is to deal with a salesperson that they fully trust and respect.

    Only the top 1% of the salespeople know how to establish that kind of relationship in the first half hour of meeting their prospects - and to continuously reinforce it.

  7. Most high-tech salespeople acknowledge that they are weak closers.

    Salespeople assume that with enough education and information, prospects will logically determine that their product/service is valuable and worth buying.  The top 1% of salespeople close a sale after the prospect has effectively closed himself.  Starting with agreements made during the initial prospecting call, they arrive at dozens of mutual commitments throughout the sales process.  The sum of those commitments is a closed sale - with absolutely no pressure on either party.

High-tech salespeople who are strong on product knowledge and weak on the 1-to-1 sales process help perpetuate the myth that high-tech Sales is Difficult.  The truth is that selling high-tech products and services is easy, when an effective selling process is utilized with each and every individual involved in the buying decision.

High Probability Selling has trained salespeople in 76 different industries, including many types of high-tech products.  I have personally managed sales staffs for several hardware and software companies.  I have personally closed many millions of dollars in high-tech sales, including semiconductor production equipment, circuit board assembly equipment, electronic display hardware, technical information services, and manufacturing systems software.