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Author: Melinda Sherwood. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 22, 2000. All rights reserved.
Can you name three ways your software buries the competition?
Most high-tech salespeople can’t even name three competitors, much
less three ways their product is unique, says Richard Peres,
a former sales and marketing director who founded SalesLingo.com,
a firm that creates online sales tools for vendors of high-tech equipment.
"A lot of companies have this information, but marketing departments
just don’t have the time to tell the sales people," says Peres.
"But when you’re selling complex products you have to differentiate
yourself in some way."
To help companies make it to the short list — that’s what SalesLingo.com
at 5 Independence Way (609-514-5116, www.saleslingo.com) aims
to do, by providing one-click access to company newsletters and brochures,
as well as tools on the methodology of selling and intelligence about
competitors. If you click on "Uncovering the Pain," for example,
several scenarios for gaining a customer’s attention come up. Click
on "How we bury the competition," and you get specific answers
about how your company’s product differs from others on the market.
SalesLingo has already created custom websites for companies like
ADP, American Express, and Magic Solutions — companies that deploy
roving salespeople to sell products in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.
The sites can cost as much as $40,000, but — as Peres puts it
— "are you getting your money’s worth if you can improve sales
20 percent? If you have remote sales people you’re spending a lot
of money on them, $100,000 to $200,000 a year for them to travel around
the country. How well are they doing?"
For considerably less, $795, sales people can learn how to create
their own Web-based sales tools at SalesLingo’s seminar on Wednesday,
March 29, at 9 a.m. at the office at 5 Independence Way. "We show
companies how to create really dynamic, well-organized materials on
the Internet that exploit your competitive advantages, and how to
use out-of-the-box software to put it together." Call 609-514-5116.
High-tech vendors are in need of sales help the most, says Peres.
"High-tech is the biggest market in the United States — it’s
bigger than manufacturing," he says. "New Jersey has almost
as many software companies as Silicon Valley. If you didn’t have the
competition, it would be easy — you just talk about your product
and what it does. But nobody just looks at one company, they look
at 10 companies, develop a short list, then look at a proposal. So
when you’re selling a product that other people are selling, you need
to know the one or two ways that your product is different. It’s pretty
basic, but a lot of companies forget that. It could be that your customer
service is better, or you have one particular feature that makes it
better, and you have to focus on that and exploit the weaknesses of
the other company."
A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, Class of 1968, Peres
spent 20 years hopping back and forth between sales and marketing
positions at both ADR and Platinum, both acquired by Computer Associates
in Long Island. "When I wanted more money I moved into sales,
when I wanted more prestige, I moved back to marketing," he says.
"Most people don’t do both but I always have."
With his partner, Barry Walter, an expert in instructional design
and computer-based training, Peres hoped to bring that experience
to other companies, but he didn’t want to compete with the big consulting
firms. "We didn’t want to compete with billion dollar software
companies or Andersen," he says, "so we had to find a niche,
and that niche was in this whole area of sales support."
High-tech companies need the outside sales support because gathering
competitive intelligence is often too costly and too time-consuming
for salespeople to do on their own, says Peres. Even the ordinary
avenues of gaining information — such as visiting your competitor’s
website — are sometimes closed to company insiders.
For example, while working at Magic Solution, which sells help desk
software, Peres discovered that 30 percent of the hits on the company’s
public website were coming from competing businesses. As a result,
Magic Solution developed a way to throw competitors off its site,
but it was only temporary solution. In the long run, the company decided
to put less information out there on the Web, and other companies
are following suit.
Finally, to sell high-tech equipment, you have to make a high-tech
impression, says Peres, so it’s important that traveling salespeople
upgrade their tired sample cases and notepads for a laptop that can
guide them through the sales process, from job lead to close.
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