A valuable, highly specialized guidebook for salespeople who concentrate on information technology.
While the basics of sales apply across all business types, a salesperson needs in-depth understanding of the attributes and lingo when selling in a specific industry. Information technology is one of those peculiar fields that’s both an industry itself and a function within virtually every type of company, which makes selling to IT even more complex. Noble’s book, first published in 2010 and updated in 2015, is a valiant effort to clarify, if not simplify, IT selling. Blending his knowledge of both IT business and sales practices, the author shares details about numerous topics, including types of IT companies, budget cycles, how to analyze a prospective client’s website, making proposals, and the service level agreement, a type of specialized contract unique to technology providers. One of the strongest aspects of the book is its explanation of terminology; IT has its own language, and Noble painstakingly provides definitions for most every key term. Just as valuable are the author’s observations about prospecting. The chapter, “Prospecting for New Clients,” for example, sets out a simple yet comprehensive sales process and includes examples of actual dialogue to use in conversing with a prospective client. Noble endorses a “5-3-2-1” strategy: “Visit 5 clients a day, 3 must be new clients, 2 must be previous clients, Receive 1 order per day.” (Prospects, by the way, are the “marbles in your pipe” referenced in the book’s title.) Despite its overall value, the book suffers somewhat from a lack of objectivity due to a protracted sales pitch for anti-virus products from Kaspersky Labs, as seen in, among other sections, a good portion of the chapter on reselling. In addition, the writing is occasionally amateurish and repetitious: “Some proposals I have created in a few hours….In the next section I have presented a sample proposal which I put together for school a good number of years ago. This proposal took me an entire week to design, if I remember correctly.” Still, this roughness around the edges fails to diminish the book’s pertinence for IT salespeople, and it’s worth reading for anyone in, or interested in, IT sales.
Shows considerable knowledge of the IT space along with a keen understanding of how to sell complex products.