Understanding finance does not come naturally to everyone. It can be difficult and complex, but when applied effectively can become a useful tool for selling more. As budgets become tighter and buyers become more sophisticated, the ICT channel can further develop its selling skills to drive growth and profitability upwards.
It is widely accepted that finance is only used at point of sale in about 30% of deals in the ICT sector, compared to around 90% in the document management sector. There are no technical reasons why this should be so – both involve selling complex IT-based solutions to a wide range of companies. At a time when finance has never more been widely available, and end users’ knowledge about different finance options is as high as it ever has been, the reason for this discrepancy lies squarely with the facilitator of the transaction, the salesperson. Recently, when speaking to a reseller friend of mine, I asked her why she thought this was. Her answer was insightful – she said that it wasn’t a case of “won’t sell with finance”, but of “don’t know how to sell with finance”. Sales teams simply weren’t being given the right training to offer finance effectively.
Good training is vital for channel companies to increase their sales. Just a few months ago, I read a major study which showed how training can have a major impact on the bottom line. Indeed, 72% of sales managers reported a ‘significant’ impact to their bottom line as a result of sales skills development (Silent Edge, 2007).
Our own research has shown that vendor salespeople who have received training in how to use finance and leasing as a sales differentiator have within three months often increased their sales volumes by almost 10%. Ad-hoc feedback also shows that they are able to decrease their sales lead times significantly.
I often write in this column about the importance of changing peoples’ mentalities in order to increase your sales. At a time when the channel is looking for new drivers for growth and profit, good training is an opportunity that cannot be ignored. Who knows, maybe the next time a difficult sale comes about, the training in how to use finance will come in handy and help clinch the deal for you?
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