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Changes in How ICT Is Sold

  • Juha Alatalo

Selling ICT solutions has changed considerably over the past 5-10 years.  Previously we talked about products and their prices. That is not so common any more, because such information is available everywhere. Today, the most important thing is to identify the needs and problems of clients and seek alternative solutions.

The sales process requires project management skills. The core competence needed by a client is not always found among its own employees, which means that knowledgeable partners need to be found elsewhere. We offer services for communications, security solutions and data center technology. If the client needs software solutions, we look for them elsewhere.

Matters related to information and cyber security are always brought up without being asked. They are considered in each case. The seriousness of the matter is realized only when the company runs into problems.  Cloud services are also a new thing. You have to know where the data is located and what can happen to it.

To improve security, the client needs to see their own system. They must know what is happening in their own network in order to solve any problems. Cost-effective tools suitable for monitoring networks and systems have been available for 4–5 years.

We hope that our client relationships that draw upon our expertise would evolve into long-lasting partnerships.

The sales situation may sometimes be more challenging than usually. The client organization may encounter smaller or larger turbulences in connection with, for example, business acquisitions. The whole industry may be subjected to a major change process which alters customer needs. There is cost pressure especially during recessions.

Even when things change, a salesperson must know who in the client’s organization is responsible for the projects of a specific business unit. In most cases, they are budgeted to various business units, but the solution must be beneficial to all of them.

The needs of partners must be considered, and they should not be overestimated nor underestimated. A salesperson should not assume that the solution presented to the client is in a better shape than it is. 

The supplier should share its costs with the client. The pace of supplying partners with solutions should not exceed their needs. A too robust solution should not be offered, since everyone does not need the best. The solution intended for a big company is not cost-efficient for a small one.

I have an educational background in technology and I have held technical positions before I started my career in sales. I think that my background has been very useful in my work as a salesperson. A client viewpoint acquired through practical work helps to visualize how a particular solution fits into the business of the client.