Almost every business on the planet needs sales. It’s arguably the most important leg of a profitable business, especially in software. Without sales you have no customers. Without customers you have no business.
Having been a small software business owner for almost a decade, I’ve been forced to do sales. My core competency is software engineering – I design and code all day long. But someone has to bring the business in… so I also do sales.
Here are my tips for any other engineers or solopreneurs who have to sell to pay the bills.
1) Do Some Damn Research
If you’re a coder you research A LOT before using a new tool or service. So why wouldn’t you do that before a sales call? Before you get on the phone make sure you’ve done your due diligence! Google the company, look at reviews, understand their value proposition.
These are all simple things that go a long way on that first call. Asking the right questions and/or having basic knowledge of your client will drastically increase your chances of moving to the next step.
2) Avoid TJ (Technical Jargon)
It’s easy to get carried away with technical terms and acronyms in the software space. However, be careful with how technical you get. Assuming a client may know a term is an easy way to offend them. More importantly, if they don’t understand what you’re talking about they surely won’t do business with you!
So get a gauge for how technical you can talk early in the conversation. Be blunt and ask them, “Would you prefer I get into technical details?” If they know the lingo they’ll be receptive – if not, they’ll let you know. Either way, they’ll be appreciative that you asked.
3) Transparency Always Wins
You can stretch the truth all you want… but in software it will always come back to bite you. People aren’t stupid, and the internet exists to keep your “promises” in check. So if someone asks you a direct question make sure the answer lines up with your company website or Linkedin profile. Otherwise, you’ll be labeled a liar very quickly… and nobody likes to work with a liar.
Furthermore, the truth is POWERFUL when it’s delivered well. Speak to your strengths. Be proud of what you have done and make sure your client or prospect understands that achievement.
4) Don’t Curse Until They Curse
Most software engineers curse while working… it’s our way of blaming the [smarter] computer for our failures… we do it all day long. However, it is NOT okay to curse on a sales call. Unless your client curses first. That’s right – don’t say fuck until they say fuck.
If you say it first, again, you can easily offend someone. However, if they drop the f-bomb first show some camaraderie and drop your own! Nobody wants to be the only guy or gal who said fuck. Cursing is just a means of communication, but make sure you’re on the same page before you use that means.
5) Be Confident
This is easier said than done, but probably the most important tip. Confidence has more to do with sales than you think. People like to do business with people that are confident. Winners want to work with winners. Period.
So make sure you come off as energetic, enthusiastic, and overall confident. Your competition has a sales guy who is doing all these things… but YOU [the software engineer] have the advantage of actually knowing what you’re talking about (unlike him). So step up to the plate and talk like a boss.
These aren’t going to get you a top sales plaque or make you a millionaire overnight. You actually have to lie to get those things ;)
But these tips will help you sell software services. I’m not a top sales exec, but I have sold 6-figure consulting revenue for several years, and these tips are how I do it.