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How To Fit Your Technology Expertise Into Your Customer's World

By Sean Berg, Shift4 Payments

MSP Technology Expertise

You have been in this industry for decades. But how well do you know your customer’s operations? Is there more you can learn? To maximize your sales, you need to truly understand how each technology can benefit the business owner. As a business technology reseller, you should be able to answer each of the following questions:

  • If the owner did not have a business technology solution (e.g., POS system, security system, inventory control system), what tasks would he perform each day?
  • What tasks are affected by the business technology you offer?
  • Do you understand the tasks well enough yourself to perform them without a technology solution?
  • How do the solutions you offer improve the efficiency of each task?
  • Can you tell the story of a life as a business owner with and without the technology solutions you offer?

Most business technology resellers have a deep understanding of their products. Yet many do not know the day-to-day operations of their customers. Business owners want to solve their problems. So, how can you take your deep technology expertise and make it important to the customer? That requires understanding the business owner’s needs and their operations. Only after you understand how the business owner completed all of their tasks before technologies existed can you apply your deep product knowledge to benefit the owner.

This simple change of approach — from being focused on your products to being focused on your customer’s needs — can propel your selling success as the industry becomes more competitive.

Why knowing your products and features is not enough

When you are an industry veteran, it takes self-discipline to avoid talking about your vast experience, knowledge, products, and features. But throwing your thoughts at the customer is like throwing darts. It’s a risky approach. You may hit the bullseye and say the right thing to pique a customer’s interest; however, more often you will miss the customer’s needs.

How to change the conversation to focus on your customer’s operations

Instead of starting your conversation by focusing on you, the conversation today has to start with what the customer needs. Begin by asking questions:

  • What are you looking for?
  • How do you envision the system operating in your business?
  • Have you had such a system before?
  • If not, how do you operate today?
  • And even if you do have a system, how did you operate prior to it?

Ask questions to get to the heart of the basic business operations and what they look like without additional technologies. What does this business do, and how does it do it? Once you have this basic understanding, you can take your veteran knowledge and figure out what technology elements apply — and how to fit your products into their world.

Example: Understanding the operations of a business.

How would a business operate without the business technology available today? What are the specific tasks that need to happen whether using pen and paper or technology?

The conversation with the customer should be about the business’ operations. You want to understand how each of these steps happens:

  • Inventory management (How do you know how much you have and how much is used?)
  • Ingredients (How do you know your daily usage and how much to order at the end of the day?)
  • Communication with vendors to place orders (How do you let vendors know what you need?)
  • Comparison among vendors (How do you negotiate the best prices?)
  • Staff management (How do you know how many people to schedule per shift?)
  • Expense management (How do you ensure profits are higher than costs per shift?)
  • Customer management (How do you manage the number of customers coming in and leaving, wait times, and turnover time per table?)

Once you understand the daily operations of the business owner you can begin to create the story of their operation, including your technology solutions. Now you can discuss how their purchase order process will be easier, faster, and less costly. Or, how they will achieve more profit with less expense, through both reduced labor and increased performance from existing labor. This exercise of understanding your customer’s operations will align you much more closely with how your technologies can help.

The average reseller becomes an expert at knowing features and often forgets to identify process improvements. Often, with these exercises, a veteran salesperson will realize opportunities they previously turned away, or common obstacles that were previously deal-breakers can now become easy to tackle.

How does alignment with the customer help you sell more?

When you have a deep understanding of your customer’s operations, you can become the trusted partner who recommends solutions that work.

A common example of the difference between understanding your product compared to understanding the business owner lies in reporting. Every business technology reseller knows to emphasize the value of reporting in making intelligent business decisions. However, if you are ready to put yourself to the test, list each of the reports you have available, what each report is for, and which report is used for each of the purposes discussed in the example above. If you take a moment to ensure you can at least answer the bullet points discussed earlier, you will already have a head start on the competition.

Do not worry if you are not confident in these answers today, as there is an industry expert you can ask who is always readily available — the business owner. Your customer needs to complete payroll, manage staff, and order more inventory. They are happy to explain all of these steps and outline what information would be beneficial in each report without ever seeing your products.

What value does technology provide?

The beauty of selling business technology is it can provide measurable improvements to a business. Once you are able to make a recommendation to help your customer solve a need, take advantage of the opportunity to show your customer the value of your solutions. What is the gain from using this technology? How much labor will be saved? How much efficiency will be gained? How many more customers can they get in the door? How much can they save in labor costs? Really drill down on the value and show the customer the gains.

Be a student of your customer

Every time you walk into a customer’s business, it should be a learning experience for you as the reseller. If you tell yourself you are an industry veteran, then you have stopped learning. But if you want to continue to be more successful each day, let every customer teach you something new about their business each time you visit.

About The Author

Sean Berg has spent the last decade seeking knowledge from highly successful industry experts and sharing this understanding for community betterment. His technology career began as a networking and software consultant for businesses prior to joining Harbortouch (2010). In Harbortouch's early years, Mr. Berg managed the support and operations teams. These positions provided perspective into the technical challenges business owners face. However, these roles did not offer an outlet for understanding the industry's sales community. Sensing this disconnect, Mr. Berg sought feedback from several sales offices on how to better optimize their experience. He found a community that was hungry to learn and happy to reciprocate with their knowledge and experience. Over the years, this led to his current role as Shift4 Payments' Director of Education where he is able to share his experiences with thousands of sales partners, technicians, and staff.

About Shift4 Payments

Shift4 Payments is the leader in secure payment processing solutions, powering the top point-of-sale and software providers across numerous verticals including Food & Beverage, Hospitality, Lodging, Gaming, Retail and e-Commerce. This includes the company’s Harbortouch, Restaurant Manager, POSitouch, and Future POS brands as well as over 300 additional software integrations in virtually every industry. With eight offices across the US and Europe, 7,000 sales partners and three state-of-the-art data centers, the company securely processes over 1 billion transactions annually for nearly 200,000 businesses, representing over $100 billion in payments each year. For additional information, visit www.shift4.com.