Selling in Tech? Think ‘Partners’ to thrive!

By SpiderGroup

10 Jul 2016

"NickNick Elston from Signable divulges his top sale secrets when it comes to selling in the tech industry.

When I first started selling, I was given a pen, a pad and some sturdy soles. Yes, I really am that old…

Fast forward just 20 years and the Sales landscape has changed in such a massive way that it would have been deemed incomprehensible before. However, the core of Selling remains – people really do still buy from people. And where that isn’t possible, they buy from a brand that they have an emotional connection with. So – for me, whether you are a person or a faceless business – there is one thing that you need to do in the modern arena…


Yep, that’s it. Ok, what I mean is ‘Heighten Your Profile & Engagement’.

Let me give you a bit of my history, so that you can see where I am coming from – and where I am now. Most of my ‘selling’ has been done in my 14 years in the Office Supplies industry, right up until 2014. My passion for sales though, came from a very early age. I don’t mean one of those Entrepreneur success stories – about selling lollipops at school, at 75% margin and being able to buy a Sega Megadrive (remember them?). I mean my curiosity, my fascination and my love of interacting with people and the dynamics of ‘The Dance’ of the process of relationships. But more about that later…

Now, everyone knows what Office Supplies are – so the offering is quite a simple one, I used a simple sales process and largely the true differential came down to building relationships, strategic referral partnerships and being excellent at what I did. The reason is – and you should know this – there will ALWAYS be someone cheaper than you. So if price is your USP (unique selling point) then Dutch Auctions will always be your game.

Through my relationship style, I built loyal, lasting, trusted and respectful relationships which were profitable, offered equal value and made people feel happy and wanted.

My sales assumptions

When I decided to leave the industry, to join Signable in 2014, I made some assumptions.

These were;

• Selling products will be the same as selling a solution

• My new buyers (Tech people) would love/need just the same approach as Office Managers

• My proven sales processes and behaviours would need no tweaking

• My transferrable network of contacts I had built up would make me £ from Day 1

I was wrong. No excuses, my bad.

Because of my wrong assumptions, I was failing from Day 1 and losing faith and confidence in myself because I refused to adapt. Staying within the comfort zone of my ‘old ways’, despite being massively successful before, just wouldn’t work at all.

And as I am amongst friends, let me share this with you. Because of my refusal to accept this, I just worked harder and longer – and guess what – same results! But a greater impact on my sanity!

So even though I had built a transferrable network of people through Business Networking, social media and other activities – who were chomping at the bit to help me – I did not know how to engage them as I was out of sync. It took a long time for me, as a proven, extremely successful Sales Professional – to admit that I had to change.

Rethinking the sales process

"office"To sell Signable, I had to go back to basics and review everything – the industry, my target market, my processes, my actions – a complete start-over.

This is what I did;

• Review Signable – look for top industries

• Develop new skills – Public Speaking, Online Demos, Vlogging, Blogging, Reading & Seminars

• Ask for help – from people within Tech

• Use my ‘weakness’ as a Sales tool – A ‘non techie’ in a Tech world!

• Change from Direct Sales to a Partnerships role

• More focused approach on partnerships & integrations than individual sales

• Work on my personal wellbeing – to regain confidence and rid anxiety

The Partnership shift was monumental – it brought my focus back to relationships, people dynamics and all the things that I thrive on in business – but also, just as importantly, changed where our income comes from. We plan for 40% of our income to be from Partnerships with clients. It truly was a win-win decision.

I strongly suggest, to anyone reading this, that you should review all of your activities and targets on a regular basis to ensure you are working at a premium, without sacrificing your sanity or losing opportunities because that’s ‘the way you’ve always done it’. Selling in Technology, for me, works well. Partnerships in Technology work amazingly well!

Nick Elston

Head of Partnerships

Tweet me: @NickElston_

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