An engineer may think sales is difficult because he doesn't have the skill set or it doesn't align with his natural strengths. Been there done than for me also. However, I'm able to use my technical skills to help my company get orders. I sell but not in the way most people would think. Realize that many times you don't have to SELL to obtain an order. Hopefully you have a natural interest, better yet a passion, for the electric power industry, and you're not in it just because you see a high revenue potential. Here's some thoughts to consider:
- Relationships are very important. Grow relationships with the key people you need to sell to. Most important: you want them to have a good feeling of trust in what you tell them. If you don't know something, it's okay to admit it. Don't try to make yourself look smarter than you are. Don't answer right away if you don't really know, and then promise them you'll go find out and get back to them in a reasonable time.
- KEEP YOUR PROMISES. If you cannot for some reason, let the client know as soon as you realize this will happen and recommit to something you can accomplish. And then keep that commitment!
- Identify key "stakeholders." Are you dealing with the decision-maker for this order? Do others have input on who gets the order? What do they want out of it? The person in finance may have different objectives than the person in purchasing or the person who has to eventually operate and maintain the thing you are selling.
- Understand the problem the customer is trying to solve. Does your "solution" (product) provide the best fit compared to other solutions?
- Know how to estimate the economic benefit of your product or a feature of it. For example, "Feature X requires less frequent maintenance than provided on competitor's product, saving you $XX,000,000 over the lifetime of the equipment, assuming a current labor cost of $xx per hour." Read up on Net Present Value, Return on Investment, Payback periods, etc. This may help you get the order when your product is not competitive purely on price.
- You will want to develop your technological knowledge. If nothing else, it helps you to realize when a customer's spec requirement is not reasonable. Customer's often get specs that have been created by a supplier (your competitor). Usually those specs contain requirements that are not really needed. Question the customer when requirements go beyond something more reasonable that can get the job done. Just as well.
Some technical topics to look into:
Reliability. What makes the power supply reliable? Do the capacitors it uses degrade over time? How does this service life compare to the service life of the equipment it goes into? The rapid change in technology has caused the service life of most electronic devices to be quite short compared to that of power distribution products. Servers will get replaced well before the parts wear out in order to take advantage of new technology.
Efficiency. If the power supply consumes less power internally than others, the user will have savings in lower energy costs. If used in a server in a data center, the savings are multiplied because HVAC costs are lower.
Harmonics: Does the power supply create harmonics on the AC system? This creates higher losses on the system and reduces capacity. I think most power supplies offered today are low harmonic supplies. Know where your product stands compared to your competitors. Data centers have been looking at DC distribution. If you have an interest in selling into that segment, do you have a product for that?