Successfully Selling IT: Three Things That Turn Off IT Executives And How to Avoid Them

If you’re selling big-ticket information technology such as computers, servers, storage, and networking, you’ll be selling to IT executives. Yet, many sales people take the wrong approach and damage their ability to make the sale.

Read on to learn what I discovered from an IT executive running the physical infrastructure of a Fortune 50 pharmaceutical company with more than 90,000 employees world-wide. Learn about about the three things that turn off IT executives and what to do differently.

Sales People Who Don’t Know Their Product

Incredibly, technology companies hire sales people to sell IT who don’t know the technology or the product.

As an IT professional, your prospect knows a lot about the products offered and they expect for the sales professional to be able to discuss–not just articulate–the value propositions and underlying technology.

If you can’t stand up to basic questions, you’ll have no credibility. IT executives will say, “That doesn’t sound like something we need. Good bye.”

What to do differently: Learn enough about your products so that you can have a reasonable discussion about what they do and how they work. This means you’ll need to study the underlying technology to be familiar with it. One way to do this is search for key buzzwords at Wikipedia.

Yet you don’t have to know everything. IT executives respect the person who admits they don’t know it all but are willing to understand the issues and offer to help. That goes a long way to creating a relationship and ultimately a sale.

Every time you hear a new term, ask about it or immediately search to learn about it. Before long, you’ll be an expert.

Deliver a Sales Pitch Before Knowing What’s Needed

Today, there are lots of IT telemarketers calling to sell something. They’ll get the IT executive’s name from a data base like Jigsaw or Hoovers. But they don’t know anything about the executive’s priorities. Yet they still jump right into the product pitch without even opening a relationship or understanding needs.

IT executives will shut that down fast with, “That’s not part of my business. Good bye.”

What to do differently: IT executives know that selling technology is a tough business and are sympathetic to professional sales behavior.

Take a moment to explain why you’re calling and even if they aren’t the right person they’ll point you in the right direct.

If you’re cold calling, it’s better to admit it than to fake a relationship or launch into a canned pitch. Just let them know why you’re calling and ask for their help.

For example: “I’m [your name] with [your company]. We haven’t talked before but I’m calling because I want to find out if we can help your company with [your key value proposition]. Who would find that most useful?”

One Size Fits All

IT executives get annoyed with an IT specialist telemarketer who thinks that one solution fits every situation. Executives view their problems as unique and they want to be treated uniquely.

For these generic pitches, the IT executive will say, “That won’t work for us. Good bye.”

What to do differently: Tell them what you can do and ask a question to explore if you can help.

For example, “Our customers choose us to help them keep track of security risks in their industry so that they can focus on their customers instead of on the bad guys. How do you manage your computer security risk management now?”

And so take the next step in your IT sales career development. Get immediately free access to a one-hour telecast playback on supercharging your sales career at You can download the telecast to listen on your mp3 player or listen on line. You also get a downloadable PDF sales action guide with more resources. Go there now to access free ideas you can use immediately.

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How to Get Customers to Make Their First Cloud Sale

I’ll be delivering a speech at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2011 in Phoenix on Thursday, June 2. Details at

Making the Cloud Rain Today: How to Get Customers to Make Their First Cloud Purchase

Mark S.A. Smith, Outsource Channel Executives

If you’re offering cloud services and seeking innovative ways to find and close sales fast, this is the session for you. Bringing intangible cloud services to customers is a new concept that requires business partners to adopt different and potentially conflicting sales approaches. For some partners, it means that their sales team will have to access the C-suite to sell their services because cloud computing is an executive-level sale and will be for at least the next five years. This requires new relationships, skills, approaches and value propositions.

You’ll learn about these and more. Some topics I’ll touch:

  • Cloud Business That Closes Fast: These are the low-hanging opportunities that are easy to present, propose and close.
  • How to Market for Cloud Customers: You see cloud advertising everywhere. Learn how you can make your marketing message stand out in the cloud market.
  • Compelling Customer Cloud Presentation Strategies: Hear how to talk about cloud in a clear, concise way so customers instantly get the value proposition and want to take action.
  • Dealing With Top Cloud Objections: Learn how to arm yourself and your team with ways to manage and overcome the top objections when selling cloud.
  • Speeding Up Cloud Deals: Hear how to increase customer urgency so that your cloud deals close faster.

This will be a highly-interactive session. Qualified attendees are business partner owners and executives willing to learn more about how to successfully develop a cloud business practice.

The Support Material

Click to download MakingCloudRain_IMCloudSummit2011Handout_V1.0.doc

The Video

Why Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is Internet-based IT services where all the resources required to run an application are delivered on-demand, like a public utility. When you virtualize everything, you get the cloud.

Cloud-computing hosting has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional server hosting.

The service is fully managed by the provider–the end user needs nothing but a browser on some device and Internet access

It is sold on demand–a user can consume as much or as little of a service as they want at any time

Usually charged for by the minute or the hour

Significant innovations in server and storage technology, virtualization, improved access to high-speed Internet, increasing costs of owning a data center, as well as a weak economy have all been accelerating cloud computing adoption.

Cloud computing makes a lot of sense for many IT services, such as email, collaboration, CRM, business continuity, and disaster recovery. It provides a reliable IT infrastructure for a very low cost. For example, small to medium-sized businesses have benefited from software as a service (SaaS) such as and Google Apps (at $50 per user per year with 99.9% email uptime guarantee, you can’t go wrong).

With enterprise, there is a whole different set of questions around cloud computing have to be addressed. 

How can we merge this technology with our existing IT infrastructure?

Is it going to meet security, regulatory, and privacy needs of my organization?

If my internet connection fails, what backup strategy do I have to stay operational?

A cloud can be either public or private. A public cloud sells services via the Internet to anyone who has access. For example, Amazon Web Services is currently the largest public cloud provider. 

A private cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a specific group of people. Private clouds deliver some benefits of cloud-computing without the potential hazards, such as data security, corporate governance, and reliability issues. However, with a private cloud, organizations still need to purchase, build, and manage them, and so do not benefit from lower capital expenses and ease of management. 

When a service provider uses a public cloud resource to host their private cloud, the result is called a virtual private cloud. Public or private, the main objective of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.

Cloud Computing Benefits

Cost: Allows you to convert capital expenditure to operational expenditure. This is a big deal to many organizations, as cloud infrastructure is typically provided by a third-party. Using a utility-pricing model with usage-based options makes financial sense for more and more organizations. This makes it very popular for hosting infrequent compute-intensive tasks. 

Agility: The time to provision technological infrastructure resources becomes almost instantaneous.

Reliability: With cloud vendors operating multiple redundant sites, reliability is increased considerably, and so cloud computing solutions become suitable for disaster recovery and business continuity. Some organizations will use the public cloud for this purpose alone.

Scalability: Automatic dynamic provisioning of the cloud allows users to scale performance loads, on a self-service basis.

Security: While the cloud is more secure than a laptop or handheld device that can be stolen, concerns persist about potential security issues in a public cloud. 

Maintenance: Cloud-computing applications are easier to maintain, since they are not installed on each individual’s computer, but rather centrally located where they can be updated and maintained by the host.

More thoughts to come!

Navigating Stormy IT Sales Video: What’s Changing and How to Make the Most of It

IT sales will look very different over the next three years. With cloud computing storming onto the scene, more vendors going direct, and more IT being outsourced, you won’t make money just selling hardware and software. In this session, you’ll learn how to stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on these changes.

Don’t Wait on Cloud: Why You Want to Talk With Your Customers About Cloud Right Now

It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when” cloud becomes part of your customer’s I.T. strategy. You want to be there first.

When you sell disruptive technology, customers are often resistant because they become concerned that the changes will affect their careers and their jobs. It’s possible that some of your customers look at cloud and think that CIO stands for Career Is Over.

No, you want it to stand for Change In Orientation. I believe CIO’s have value in directing companies safely into the cloud world. They must lead the rest of the business to ensure everyone’s success. And you’re going to help them with that.

When you sell cloud services, you’re selling and delivering intangibles versus tangibles. This means that you may need to change the way that you sell; you must talk about business value and addressing business needs with line-of-business executives instead of talking speeds and feeds with system administrators.

Before selling cloud services you sold Hardware, Software, System design, Installation, Education, Break/Fix, and perhaps Managed services.

What changes now is the mix and the revenue model. With cloud services you sell all of that and more: bundled hardware and software installed somewhere else, compliance, security, customization, design, implementation, education, on-going user support, WAN and LAN, and end-user hardware. You might event sell business process transformation and business consulting. Don’t worry; we’ll help you with all of this. It’s not that challenging.

The good news is that you’ll probably have less direct competition because you will be offering a package of services, so your customer won’t be shopping for a specific commodity. Your competitive advantage will be based on your relationships and business insight, not the catalog of hardware and software that you’re offering. So the bottom line is that you can bring to your organization more profits and more margin.

What’s the value of cloud to your sales career?

Selling cloud is the perfect opportunity to expand your customer base and penetrate your accounts. You have a strong reason to sell outside of I.T., growing your influence and enhancing customer relationships. You’re going to increase customer intimacy, getting to know their businesses a whole lot better, making you a true trusted advisor. This decreases the odds of competitive attack. When you consider these benefits, cloud is great for your career.

Selling cloud services also brings recurring revenues and you don’t have to go back into your customer every three to five years and resell yourself during an infrastructure refresh.

You will sell new, competitive products that you may not have offered before because you didn’t have the infrastructure or team with the skills to sell those services. With cloud you can expand what your offering bringing customers a full solution.

When you sell cloud, your technical staff won’t be running all over town doing traditional break / fix services. You’ll leave that to the cloud vendor.

Instead your technical staff will be involved in integrating the different cloud solutions and services along with adding value and bringing innovation to the customer relationship. This means that your tech staff will grow to be more valuable and meaningful to your organization.

And if you’ve been selling for a while, you will reinvigorate your career with new ideas, new solutions, and new customers.


Video: How to Amp Up Cloud Sales Now

If you’re offering cloud services and want to look for innovative ways to increase your sales, this is the video for you.

Bringing intangible cloud services to customers is a new concept that requires business partners to adopt different and potentially conflicting sales approaches. (“Remember all those servers I sold you? Forget about them.”).

For some partners, it means that their sales team will have to access the C-suite to sell their services because cloud computing is an executive-level sale and will be for at least the next five years. This requires new relationships, skills, approaches, and value propositions.

You’ll learn about these and more in this video. Here are the topics I’ll touch upon:

  • Where to Find Cloud Services Business that Closes Fast: These are the low-hanging opportunities that are easy to present, propose, and close.
  • Compelling Customer Cloud Presentation Strategies: How to talk about cloud in a clear, concise way so customers instantly get the value proposition and want to take action.
  • How to Discuss Cloud Pricing: Positioning the value of cloud in a way that makes sense to customers. How to compare cloud to what they’ve been budgeting and buying.
  • Speeding Up Cloud Deals: How to increase customer urgency so that your cloud deals close faster.

Video Details

This is a highly-interactive one hour video. Qualified viewers are business partner owners and executives willing to learn more about how to successfully develop a cloud business practice.

Your Video Leader… Mark S.A. Smith

If you’re one of the 30,000 channel professionals who have experienced Mark S.A. Smith, you know he delivers the goods. If you haven’t, get ready. Author of 11 books, more than 10,000 hours of platform time, and innovative thinker, Mark has new plans and new twists on old ideas for you.

Click to download AmpingUpCloudSalesHANDOUTV1.0.pdf

The Cloud Just Got 1,000 Times Bigger

Here is an announcement that I got today from Amazon. I think it’s an astounding announcement that removes one of the limits on the cloud: cheap storage for large data objects. The cloud juggernaut keeps rolling.

Dear Amazon S3 Customer,

We are excited to announce that Amazon S3 has increased the maximum size of an object from 5 gigabytes to 5 terabytes. You can now easily store and reference high resolution videos, large backup files, scientific instrument data or other large datasets as single objects.

To store objects larger than 5 gigabytes, use the Multipart Upload feature, which allows parallel uploads and streaming of large objects into Amazon S3 as they are being created.

The AWS SDKs, the Amazon S3 Management Console, and the AWS Import/Export service have all added support for objects up to 5 terabytes in size. For more information on uploading large objects into Amazon S3, review the Amazon S3 Developer Guide.

 Sincerely, The Amazon S3 Team

Ingram Micro GovEd Cloud Computing Panel Presentation

Here are the slides from my Ingram Micro GovEd Cloud Computing Panel Presentation. It’s a quick introduction to cloud services and some discussion points about the federal government embracing cloud services.

Click to download MarkSASmith_OCE_GovEd_Cloud_PresentationV1.0.pptx

This is the audio of the panel discussion. The panel included Renee Bergeron, Ingram Micro VP Cloud Services, Mark Grossman, Esq. (, and myself. Interesting questions from the audience about hosting, making money with $6 per user pricing models, and how to get started selling cloud.

Click to download IM_GovEd_Cloud_Panel20101112.WMA

Renee talks about the evolution of cloud and Ingram Micro’s offerings and Mark talks about legal considerations in the cloud.

You can register for the How to Start Selling Cloud webinar at

Updated: How to Start Selling Cloud Services Webinar

On Monday, November 15, 9:00 PST – 12:00 EST, I conducted an one-hour webinar for Ingram Micro on how to start selling cloud services.

If you’re trying to figure out how to make the cloud work in your practice, here’s a great place to start.

This informative and entertaining webinar shows business partner owners, executives, sales professionals, and tech staff how to be successful selling cloud services. You’ll learn how to put together your business plan, sales plan, and customer plan. And you’ll be introduced to the vendor-agnostic resources available now to make it happen fast.

If you’re the business owner, you’ll learn what steps to take to launch your cloud practice: what to think about, what questions to ask, and what to do—and when to do it—to make sure that you’re successful.

If you’re a sales professional, you’ll discover how selling cloud is different than selling other types of IT technology and how to get started talking about cloud with your customers.

If you’re a systems engineer or other technical-support staff, you’ll learn about your role in the cloud sales process, and how to best work with your customers for a successful cloud deployment.

Here’s the audio segment of the webinar.

Click to download HowToGetStartedSellingCloud.mp3

New Cloud Education Site Launched by Ingram Micro

Ingram Micro, the largest distributor of hardware and software, announced a new cloud education site for business parter resellers, If you’re not an Ingram Micro partner, you’ll need to register to gain access. You’ll find it’s worth while.

This site features both vendor-specific and vendor-agnostic training content to help you successfully sell cloud services.

A large portion of the vendor-agnostic training content was developed by my company, Outsource Channel Executives, Inc. and you’ll see my smiling face on many of the video-based training modules.

In the business development segment, you’ll find three tracks, one each for reseller partner business owners, sales professionals, and tech professionals.

Renee Bergeron introduces Ingram Micro Cloud online resources.