While smaller, nimble technology service providers are challenged by a lack of sales resources, larger providers face a number of sales enablement challenges.
In particular, gaining agreement on common IoT business objectives and target markets, as well as alignment of considerable internal selling resources and processes.
Sales messages are often unfocused and overemphasise technology specs, ultimately getting lost in the “noise” of this competitive market.
Many struggle to effectively demonstrate proven capabilities and value. Others struggle to hit revenue targets because of customer requirements for more complete solutions, lengthy sales processes and outdated salesforce compensation plans.
As a result, IoT sales executives working for technology service providers will have double the employment turnover rate of non-IoT sales executives by 2020, according to Gartner.
How to sell IoT solutions
To succeed, here are three best practices for selling IoT solutions:
1 - Use IoT uses in sales tools and messaging
Sell IoT business value and outcomes by understanding top customer pain points. Create sales tools and messaging that target specific ways IoT is being used. This represents the most compelling way to showcase value and capabilities, since it tells a story through real customer results in a business context.
The market, however, is still packed with providers emphasising technical or functional minutia in sales information, instead of how they’re marrying IoT solutions with customer needs to deliver real business value.
Communicate in terms of business value, digital business models and the types of business benefits IoT can enable.
Dell Technologies, for example, has targeted IoT uses aligned to three primary vertical markets — energy, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics — to accelerate its selling process for edge computing.
The process for implementing each is diagrammed in a solution “blueprint,” which tells a story about the key benefit drivers and customer value for each particular use. Dell cites that 82 percent of its edge computing design wins are solutions for which it has developed a blueprint.
2 - Leverage customer experience centres
Customer experience centres (innovation labs/design centres) can be leveraged as a sales support to prove your organisation’s capabilities to deliver business value. The idea is to bring a prospect or client onsite to work with highly trained staff to design and/or build an IoT strategy or solution. It can also showcase your IoT portfolio.
As an example, Cognizant has deployed customer experience centres to engage clients and sell IoT consulting services.
This ranges from identifying business value and customer journey mapping; imagining device industrial design; defining architecture; to exploring organisational readiness for integrating IT/OT systems with IoT.
Sales teams can leverage these centres throughout the full sales life cycle.
3 - Create well trained consultative sales organisations
Selling IoT solutions requires technical and solution sales expertise, given the complexity involved. To maximise sales, create well trained consultative sales organisations with cross-functional skill sets and updated sales compensation plans, and reset sales cycle metrics.
This means implementing resources and training to understand customer business needs, the ability to help customers create IoT business plans and the product knowledge to close sales with more complete solutions and offerings that support those needs.
Vodafone is one service provider that has implemented a cross- functional IoT sales team. Its dedicated IoT business unit with more than 1,400 people has the largest base of dedicated IoT staff among global telcos.
Recently, it started transferring IoT sales experts into its regional businesses to provide sales support, but also to act as what it calls the “skill seed” for local sales enablement. Consider training up your own experts to grow IoT sales opportunities.
Nathan Nuttall is a research director at Gartner, helping technology vendors successfully take IoT solutions to market.