“What is ERP? How does it work?” This is the first question that came into my mind when I was first assigned an ERP campaign. As a salesperson, it is important for me to know and understand every detail of the product that I’m going to introduce to my prospects in order to become effective.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business process management software designed for medium to large businesses that allows them to manage and automate their business operations. It covers a wide range of business functions and processes such as manufacturing, marketing and sales, Inventory, HR, Finance, planning, purchasing, etc.
When selling ERP software, different people within the organization is involved in the decision making process. Buying process takes longer than others and in order to make a sale, you need to speak to the real decision-makers – the C Level Executives.
There are 4 stages in the buying process.
- Evaluation. A process of assessing if the current solution used within an organization is usable, maintainable, and sustainable or if there are specific areas that are lacking or needs improvement.
- Planning. This is the part where IT team is doing their research of any software that is available in the market that fits their needs and will help them improve their business operations.
- Purchasing. After thorough planning. This is the part where all of the people involved in the buying process will decide what software to purchase.
- Implementation. This is the process of installing and maintaining the new system.
So, how did I get prospects especially the C-level Executives to notice my ERP software? Whether you’ve decided to call or email them, C-Level Executives are the busiest person in every organization. So preparation is important before you try to reach out to them. Here’s what I usually do.
STEP 1: Research
- Start with those who are involved in the evaluation process, IT Managers and IT Directors. They are the ones who will identify if there is a need to change and will propose an ERP project to the big boss.
STEP 2: Gather information and Pre-Qualify
- Whatever you do, don’t do any selling on your first attempt. Determine whether they need your product or not. Don’t focus on your company and your software. Instead, ask about their current setup and pre-qualify the company.
Ask questions such as:
- What software are you currently using?
- How long have you been using it?
- Do you have a provider? Do you have a contract? When will it end?
When you pre-qualify the company, ask information about their company such as:
- How many users do you have for your ERP?
- How many employees does the company have?
- How much is your company’s annual revenue?
STEP 3: Establish the plan.
- Identify their pain points and stress out what your software can do to help their resolve their issues. Ask;
- Do you have any issues or problems with your current software?
- Are there any areas that you would like to improve?
Once you’ve identified they have a need, ask about their plans;
- When do you plan to evaluate your current software?
- Do you have plans to look for new software by the time of your evaluation?
Also, don’t forget to ask the role of the person that you’re talking to and the availability of the final decision maker (C-Level Executives):
- What would be your role in this project?
- Who is the final decision maker for this project? (Get the name, job title, email, direct line/ext no.)
- When is the best time for me to call him/her?
Gather as many information for you to use when speaking with the C-Level Executives.
STEP 4: Plan
- The main reason why C-Level Executives speak and listen to me is, I sound like I don’t have any intention of wasting their time. Plan on what to say and what to ask based on the information gathered on your initial call with the IT guy.
- Refrain from calling them over and over again. Preparation is important to discuss everything in one call.
STEP 5: Call the C-Level Executive
- When speaking with the C-level Executives, be direct to the point.
- Use the referral technique.
Here’s what I usually say;
Hi, (name of the C-Level Executive). This is Ameer Ahmad from ABC Company. I spoke with (Name and Job Title of the IT guy you spoke on your initial call) about your company’s software evaluation. He mentioned you’re the best person to speak with regarding this, am I correct?
Then try to close the sale and set up for a follow up call to discuss further about their plans.. How?
- Recap the plan mentioned by the IT guy and ask for a confirmation about their plans.
- Set up a follow up call as to when to discuss when they’re ready to start with the project.
Reaching out to C-level Executives whether through email or call may take time. Most of the time, call or emails are kept unanswered. They’re the hardest person to reach to. So don’t reach out to them on your first attempt. Earn the right to speak with them by following these steps.
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