As an IT professional, you wear a lot of hats.
In a single day you go from being a manager, human resources, marketing and many other titles.
Oh, you also have to manage your client's networks.
You can (and I highly recommend) outsource and automate a lot of these tasks, but the one thing you can never fully get rid of is sales.
Even if you have a full sales team, your are still your companies best salesman.
Partnerships are Key
When people think of selling, they usually think in a client-centric mindset. Keep your clients happy and keep the sales coming in. When you own your own business, there is a lot more too it than that. Keeping and earning new clients is very important, but so is fostering great business partnerships, finding and retaining investors and getting (and keeping!) new employees to maintain your empire and keep it growing.
Getting a new client is great for business, but the right kind of partnership can bring in a lot more revenue than a single good client.
Think about it for a second, a partnership installing internet service for your local ISP or installing credit card machines could potentially expose your company to hundreds or thousands of new clients, and you get paid while doing it. That is far greater exposure to new clients and opportunities than a single sale.
Think of other businesses your company could partner with. Is there a local audio / visual company you could partner with? Your companies skills could be very complimentary to theirs. This applies to most industries as everything these days seems to have an IP address. You need to remember that although networking knowledge seems like basic stuff to you, it seems like cryptography or fluid dynamics to others.
Promote Your Business and Yourself
In addition to partnerships, you need to be out promoting your business to everyone, even people who will not or cannot become clients. Why? To increase the image of your business. Your reputation is a very valuable asset and ties in very tightly with word of mouth marketing. You never know who somebody else knows.
You also need to realize that your personal life and character are critical to your business. Make sure people like you. Make sure they can relate to you. This all ties in to how people and clients (new and old) view your business as a whole.
A few things to always be thinking about to help boost your sales:
1) Do people understand you when you are speaking?
You want to try your best not to use too much technical jargon or geek speak. Always try to communicate naturally and don't try to sound too smart. Of course, you should speak clearly and make sure everyone can hear you.
2) Can you relate to your potential clients on things outside of business?
Take me for instance, I am not a big fan of sports of any kind. A few years ago I couldn't tell you the difference between a football and a puck. Nowadays I do my best to keep up on the happenings of hockey and football. Why? Because that is what my clients are interested in and that is what they like to talk about.
3) Pay attention to your clients needs:
You clients don't care if they are running 8 core processors with 32 GB of ram in their servers. All they want are transactions or processes to be completed in a timely manner. They also don't want to spend all their hard earned revenue on the best and greatest equipment out there. Some times, a function requires the fastest computer or newest tech, but sometimes the solution is very simple, cheap and low tech. Make sure you make the right call and give your client what they need, not what YOU want.
4) Don't sell yourself short:
Your services are valuable. So valuable that you actually have a business where people pay you for your problem solving skills and your opinions on technology. Don't be the cheapest guy in town, that turns your business into a commodity and your clients will not respect you. Take a look at what your competition charges, I am sure it is more than what you charge. Better yet, call a local plumber or electrician and see how much they would charge to have someone out within an hour or two. I will bet you it is more than what you would charge. Always remember how valuable your time and skills are.
By following these simple steps, you'll start boosting your sales without even trying.
Brad Kendall has over 10 years of experience in the ever-changing, fast-paced, dynamic technology industry.
He currently operates three highly successful businesses including an I.T. consulting firm, a digital software and hardware company and a firm that develops mobile and SaaS applications.
Find out more about Brad at his website http://www.bradkendall.ca.