Best Practices for Selling a Technical Product

Selling a highly complex, technical product is a major challenge. It requires a deep understanding of the product features and also the value it brings to your prospects. Even if you yourself are not a tech person per se, you will need to be able to convince people with highly specific technical knowledge that you know what you’re talking about.

Here are some best practices for making a highly technical sale.

1) Always equate product features with tangible benefits

You need to have a thorough understanding of product features. Expect to be grilled on the details. But, as with any other sale, listing off features won’t be sufficient. You will need to make a compelling case on how the product will make a difference to your prospect.

Storytelling is a critical tool. Many prospects lack information about how their situation compares to other companies. As a salesperson, you’re in a good position to provide context so that prospects understand the benefits of your products.

Remember, they are evidence-based people and will need to see hard numbers about the benefits of your product. Be prepared to explain the numbers.

2) Understand how to position the product in the market

With complex products, you can pretty much assume that your prospects will be talking to other vendors. If you want to make the sale, you must demonstrate why you are the best option. What does your product do better than anyone else? That needs to be front and center in all your communications with the prospect.

Research your competitors thoroughly so that you can discern what selling points they’re likely using. Try to preemptively address them.

At some point in the sales process, it’s possible that your prospect might explicitly ask you why they should select your product over others. Make sure that you have a specific, evidence-based answer prepared. You don’t want to come across as baselessly disparaging a competitor. Rather, you are providing information about the market and where your product fits into it.

3) Use technical jargon precisely and only when appropriate

When selling a technical product, it can be tempting to show-off your know-how by using all of the jargon you’ve learned in your training and research. However, that can be a mistake.

Don’t confuse using jargon with genuine expertise. Your prospects understand the difference, and they will get irritated if you use jargon incorrectly. Make sure that you are using all technical terms correctly so that you don’t give prospects a chance to nit-pick and doubt you.

Use technical terms when appropriate, but it’s more important to offer an informed, well-articulated explanation of how the product works and what its benefits are. Sometimes jargon can get in the way of clarity.

4) Back your calculated ROI with sufficient data

ROI is likely top of mind for your prospects. Make a case, both explicitly and implicitly, for how your product will provide ROI. Support your claims with case studies and research. Prospects will have a natural skepticism of many claims.

The prospect is likely to be preparing a business case for your product. Offer your support during this process and be very transparent about your process. Explain how you arrived at your numbers. It may be helpful to present several scenarios to show that you’re being honest about the range of potential outcomes.

5) Explain how you will implement a smooth product transition process

When prospects are seriously considering you, they will want to know about the transition process. Prepare detailed answers that are catered to the prospect’s needs. You don’t want to just give stock answers about, “here’s what we do to help companies transition.” Show exactly how you will help them do that.

Give them a timeline for the transition process. The timeline should be realistic rather than optimistic. Be honest about what roadblocks might come up, and show that you have a plan for how to deal with them.

6) Explain how end-users will be provided support during and after onboarding

With a complex product, one of your prospects’ biggest concerns is this: Will our users actually be able to figure out how to use this effectively?

Make the case for usability early and often. As always, it helps to be armed with evidence. Know metrics such as adoption rate, utilization rate, and feature penetration rate. You should also be prepared to discuss what you are doing to improve these metrics.

Show your concern for end-users by making sure to address their concerns during the sales process. Ask them about their biggest roadblocks. Then, explain how you can support them in using the product.

In many cases, it’s helpful to get people from the tech support or customer success team involved in the sales process. This shows prospects that they will receive support and gives them a preview of what kind of service they might expect to receive.

7) Identify prospect’s biggest bottlenecks and demonstrate how you can address them

It’s likely that your prospect has had negative experiences with highly complex products in the past. They may not tell you this explicitly. By responding to their objections with probing questions, you can figure out what they’re really worried about. It’s also helpful to show that you’re listening rather than going straight into sales pitch mode.

Be specific in your questions. Instead of asking, “what are your biggest fears?”, you should say, “What departments do you anticipate having the most resistance to adapting the product?” Follow up with additional questions so that your response is comprehensive and thoughtful.

Making a highly technical sale isn’t something that you can fake your way through. By developing deep knowledge of the product and industry, you can earn credibility from prospects and position yourself to close the sale.

James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.