As an IT professional, it’s easy to go to a place of resentment when you consider your role in sales. You do the footwork and they get the glory… and commission. However, the role of the IT department in sales is not only irreplaceable but significantly valuable to the company as a whole. Your colleagues’ salaries depend on it.
When IT and sales work harmoniously together, the company achieves unprecedented success. What can you do as an IT professional to add value to the sales team and strategy? Try these key efforts:
1. Keep the lines of communication open.
Pitch yourself as a partner in sales. Schedule biweekly or monthly meetings with your sales department to learn more about their strategies, their successes, their challenges, and their needs. Plan to spend your time listening and absorbing rather than presenting immediate solutions or leading the discussion. The more you know about how they think and work, the more creative and relevant your solutions will be.
2. Subscribe to newsletters designed for those in sales.
The information provided in email newsletters for salespeople can keep you up to date on trends in the industry and new technologies designed to streamline their efforts. It can also prepare you to “speak their language” which can increase your influence among the team.
3. Use analytics to your advantage.
Adult learners are most interested in answering the questions, “Why is this valuable?” and “How will this benefit me?” Any time you pitch a new solution to the sales department, incorporate information about its value to the company as a whole as well as its potential benefit for the employees involved. The best way to communicate is through analytics; perhaps a neighboring company saw a 20% increase in sales after implementation – share that!
4. Provide updates to executive management.
Communicate the role your department has played in implementing new solutions in sales and provide hard facts on the influence those solutions have had on revenue and bottom line. One of the most effective and influential ways to communicate the technology department’s role is through a non-emotional, statistic-laden quarterly report.
All employees – sales and otherwise – want to be heard. The sales department will gain respect for you as they begin to see that you are looking out for their bottom line more than your own, and as they gain respect a partnership and camaraderie develops.
6. Close the loop.
Once technologies have been implemented to maximize efficiency and results in the sales space, make an effort to close the circle by providing friendly and timely tech support, evaluating the success of the initiative, asking for feedback from those using the program, and being open and responsive to criticism.
7. Make decisions together.
Adults are more likely to buy into new programs and the learning curve that accompanies them when they were an active part of the selection, planning, and implementation. You can involve the sales staff by demonstrating multiple solutions, providing your input, and welcoming theirs to make a decision that the whole group can support. Once a decision has been made, brainstorm as a group – IT and sales combined – how to best communicate, train, and implement the new program as well as how to measure the success down the road.
8. Establish sales goals for the IT department.
When the IT staff are invested in company sales goals, they are more excited about, engaged in, and open to new developing new solutions that will actually be used to their full potential.
In order to make sales a more coveted aspect of the IT role, consider ways to make your role more visible throughout the organization.
Is there a company newsletter? Consider contributing updates from your department, statistics about your department’s role in recent company successes, and openness to new ideas or problems you may be able to address through technology.
No company newsletter? Consider drafting an internal IT newsletter, sharing industry news and statistics, new personal and business applications, and company and department updates in an exciting and engaging way. Consider highlighting an employee of the month in the IT department, celebrating a recent accomplishment that has streamlined a previously complex process or saved the company money through a great solution.
Finally, the attitude about sales comes from the top. Ensure the leadership in your department feels a sincere commitment to IT’s role in product or service sales and sells it to new hires.
The relationship between IT and sales doesn’t have to be strained; by collaborating to increase sales, salaries, and perks these departments can revolutionize the company culture and change the way work is done.