Software developer marketing and sales teams are encountering a new trend: IT departments aren’t the only people making IT buying decisions anymore. IDC predicted that by 2019, tech spending by line of business (LOB) decision makers would exceed spending by IT departments. For software marketers and sales reps accustomed to selling to IT, the shift to an audience with a growing percentage of LOB technology buyers requires making some fundamental changes. The pain you look for in the sales process, your messaging — and even the vocabulary you use — probably need to be different.
Ravi Raj, CEO of Passage AI, offers four tips on how to communicate more effectively with LOB contacts and provide them with the information they really need to make technology buying decisions.
1. Talk less about technology and more about outcomes.
People tend to live in their comfort zones, and for ISV sales reps, this is often talking about their technology’s specs and functions. Raj says, however, “It is more important to articulate how the technology can solve the customer’s problem. It is critical for teams to be able to clearly and effectively relay why the prospect needs the technology and how it can help them improve their business.”
But remember, you’re not talking to IT. The problem isn’t software that doesn’t work with certain printers or dealing with server or storage space. For LOB technology buyers, the problem may be software that doesn’t support positive customer experiences or meet compliance requirements. Focus on what your prospect cares about.
2. Use live demonstrations
Raj says the best way to communicate how your technology works is through a demonstration. “At Passage AI, we often set up live demonstrations to showcase how our chatbots work and their industry-leading accuracy,” he says. “We’ve found that these visual demos allow prospective clients to understand how the technology could help them — and, as a result, they often become actual clients.”
It’s smart to choose people from your team who are skilled demonstrators to present your software to LOB technology buyers and offer real-world examples of how your application is working in use cases similar to theirs.
3. Use analogies.
Raj also suggests that an effective way to get your message across to technology buyers who don’t have technical backgrounds is to use analogies and examples. “It can help them comprehend the technology and better understand how it works,” he says.
Software vendors with deep knowledge and expertise in the verticals they develop for can, for example, draw parallels showing how their software replaces specific manual or redundant processes.
“Also, it is helpful to put resources at their disposal so they can gain additional insight if needed. Everyone learns differently; some people are visual learners while others learn through written manuals or instructions. As such, you need to ensure you can provide the client with support via phone, video demonstrations or written instructions — whatever puts them most at ease.”
4. Don’t overlook the basics.
Raj points out that, in general, software developers need to improve how they communicate the basics to users. Developers who work on an application every day may need to step back from time to time and take a look at what a technology buyer who has never used or interacted with the application would need to know.
“Often, it is the simple things, minor issues, that can frustrate clients,” Raj says. “By helping clients understand the technology in a manner they can comprehend, they will feel more confident when using it. Their positive experience will hopefully turn them into proponents of the technology and can help you secure new clients.”