Sales Competencies in ICT marketplace - what do you think?

I'm looking to understand what are the critical competencies expected of a salesperson selling in an ICT marketplace.

The business areas are transforming and we have a need to support the transition towards selling of ICT products and services to the marketplace - does anyone have any examples or thoughts regarding the critical competencies required?

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Having spent 15 years in sales, 7 of those in manufacturing and 8 in ICT sales, there is no easy answer to this question - each sales person has their own style. However you may want to take a look at Spin Selling by Neil Rackham. If your sales staff want to use a consultative, problem-solving based approach to sales, then the ability to diagnose problems correctly would be one skill. Also, in IT sales, technical ability or aptitude does help. However, I would say that good organisation and planning skills, tenacity and the more people-orientated soft skills are also key competencies. Hope this helps.

Also, one important thing I forgot to mention; there is usually a difference between "hunters" and "Farmers" i.e. green field sales/business development and account managers. You may want to separate the competencies between these two groups. Many of the job descriptions at large sales organisations that you can see when they are recruiting on the job sites will differ between these so may be a source of reference.

Great Toby, thanks for your input - our sales model reflects many of the spin principles - I guess the trick is how technical you need to be - I think some of our people display a fear of working in an ICT world when reality is if they focus on their consultative selling skills, they are actually pretty well prepared - it's probably more around the wrap around skills and knowledge that needs tweaks rather than being the focus for them.

Hi John

In my experience they break down into six areas:-

1. Sales Skills - both generic sales skills and also company specific such as sales cycle, forecasting, and multi-level sales.

2. Product Knowledge - understanding configuration, pricing and benefits.

3. Market Knowledge - segmentation, drivers, pain points etc

4. Business Skills - understanding the business environment in which clients are operating

5. Competitive intelligence

6. Business Systems and Work Flows - e.g. the CRM, risk assessment, proposal sign-off, etc.

Hope that structure provides a sensible first level framework

Thanks Alan, great insight!

Reviewing this again Alan, can you help me to understand what you would say the difference is between Market knowledge and business skills - they seem pretty close on first view?

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