The Powerful Role Technical People Play in Account DevelopmentJune 07, 2016 | By Wayne O'Neill
It’s a common myth that technical people aren’t great at business development.
The fact is, with the right mindset, technical people can be the best business developers.
We see this all the time with our technically-minded clients, especially those who are selling technical services. They can’t get their arms around how to start a conversation. They tend to want to talk about their offering or their resume – when in fact it’s their impact that their customers are most interested in hearing about.
Mining Experience for Impact
Often, technical people are coached to talk about themselves with customers and clients. They are told to talk about their resume and their company, and when they do this, the customer politely listens.
The they know it’s not working. And the customer knows it’s not working.
Don’t rush to the meeting.
Take the time to understand what business and political issues the customer is struggling with – and build a narrative around that.
Then, to really move the sales needle when talking to a prospective customer, technical people need to think in terms of how they have made an impact on previous customers – and how that impact can relate to the current conversation.
The Architect and the Big Sale
Here’s an example of this impact conversation in action.
We worked with an architectural firm who had somebody very technical in a lead sales position. This person was pretty typical in terms of personality. He wasn’t very verbal, and he focused his account development conversations on his qualifications.
As we began coaching him and understanding his business experience, we came to find out more about the impact he made with the projects he’d worked on. Now, these were relatively small hospital projects. But while those projects started off small, it turns out that he made a huge impact on his clients. He helped every one of those clients become more effective in one of the most powerful, dramatic trends happening in healthcare today.
In each one of those hospitals – whether they were urban or rural – the architect helped the leadership team participate more fully using design and a different way of looking at space. Those clients were drastically more prepared to compete within an accountable care framework after working with this architect.
Once we learned all that, it was so easy to help the architect approach client conversations differently. Even though he was targeting very large hospital systems and he only had these small projects under his belt, he now had the right narrative and a brand new sense of confidence to go along with it.
That’s the punchline. Once a technical person develops that skill and confidence, it enables you to operate more as a go-to-market team in any circumstances. Your technical people can be just as effective at growing accounts as your marketing or business development people.
The Bottom Line
Technical people’s “default setting” is to talk about their services, skills, company and resume. The truth is that their work connects to a bigger impact around the business and political issues their customers are facing. This changes the way they start the conversation, and it results in stronger accounts and richer business relationships.