COVID-19 pandemic requires rethink of IT sales strategies

The lockdown many countries around the world are experiencing has changed the way IT services providers engage with their customers. Even though the long-term business impact of the coronavirus is yet to be determined, Saicom believes this will likely result in the re-emergence of the traditional break/fix fee-for-service approach of IT organisations.

Traditionally, this model is built around IT companies performing services as needed and only billing the customers for work done. The pandemic will change the way IT products and services are sold, how they are priced, how contractual terms are assessed, and what a sales strategy for the new normal will require.

Given how organisations have been driven into a virtual work environment, additional need has been created around access to video applications, faster and more reliable bandwidth, cost management, and a fundamentally different way of managing employee productivity.

And while the break/fix model holds economic appeal in these uncertain market conditions, this is the ideal time for IT organisations to evolve their sales strategies into something that is more nuanced.

There is no change management recipe or simple process that can be referenced to ease organisations into the new normal. Critically, sales teams must realise that now is not the time to cash in on opportunities. Instead, they must appreciate the customers they have and gain a better understanding of what those customers’ challenges are. Further to this, it is important to come to terms with the value of relationships instead of finding new ways to cross-sell or upsell products and services.

This requires IT services providers to work with their customers to forge a trusted client-provider relationship. Part of this entails becoming more honest, factual, and authentic in their customer engagements. Here are several ideas that can help in this regard:

Look for buyers and not people to sell too – Buyers will need to save money, consolidate, and strategise how their business will need to operate from here on out.

Re-evaluate what you can do financially and commercially – IT companies must assist clients with cost savings, elastic terms, and flexible contract durations.

Engage and connect more using social media – It is all about networking. There are buyers looking for immediate fixes, solutions, products, and ways to save money. Buyers and businesses must become more efficient and need to directly increase productivity and enhance the work from home value proposition.

Be patient – While it might seem counter-intuitive, sales teams should not stress about targets, making budget, or cashing in on commission. Instead, they must reset, re-establish, and re-evaluate their sales techniques and salesmanship.

Experiment – Salespeople should experiment with using different tools, methods, and tactics. It is all about trying something new. They really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

These are difficult times. Selling in a financially-depressed market is certainly not easy. But by changing one’s mindset and re-creating how products and services are sold, IT companies can improve the performance, productivity, and profitability of their customers. The rest will take care of itself.

As the adage states – there is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.

David Cooke, Sales and Marketing Director at Saicom