Technology vendors need better knowledge of their customers if they’re going to compete

The UK’s technology sector has been booming in recent years and is continuing to see an upturn in investment. According to figures released by London & Partners, a staggering $682m has been invested in London’s emerging technology market alone during the first three months of 2015.

The digital economy is vital to Britain’s financial stability. By 2024, this sector is expected to contribute £12 billion to national GDP, making it the fastest growing area of business in the G20. The digital marketplace therefore represents a hive of commercial opportunity – and is likely to get even busier in the coming years.

A lack of insight

With the number of new start ups in the UK technology market increasing rapidly, competition for business is fierce amongst sales professionals. Richard Phelps, a managing director of Barclays, recently revealed that since 2012 the UK has seen a net gain of nearly half a million companies. So how are salespeople coping with such an increase in demand for their services coupled with stiff competition to win the business?

The answer may lie in understanding their customers better. In a rapidly expanding and increasingly diverse marketplace, it has become more difficult for sales teams to know their audience intimately and demonstrate the need for the products they’re selling.

A recent report from Forrester, the global technology research company, highlighted the dissatisfaction felt by B2B customers about the level of understanding that salespeople in the technology industry currently possess.

According to the research, a mere 24% of salespeople appeared knowledgeable about their clients’ business. In the technology market, it is therefore more important than ever to be able to demonstrate knowledge of the industry to differentiate yourself from the competition. This can be very difficult to achieve, however, as the emerging technology sector is so dynamic and diverse. As a result, many sales professionals have been unable to take full advantage of the UK tech boom.

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InsightBee’s survey of 100 technology sales professionals in the UK highlights the systemic nature of the problem. Nearly 8 out of 10 respondents (79%) felt that their knowledge of existing clients has either worsened or remained unchanged over the last 12 months, leading to much weaker customer and client relations.

At the same time, the race to beat sales targets has resulted in many organisations simply taking on too many clients. As a result, many sales departments are failing to understand their clients’ desires, product and industry adequately, which is hindering their ability to react to evolving market opportunities effectively.

Clearly, a lot of salespeople are aware of this problem – and are doing their best to tackle it. InsightBee’s survey reveals that 46% of UK technology sales professionals currently spend more than ten hours a week sourcing business intelligence. But is it working? Despite this massive amount of research, a lack of industry knowledge remains a problem for the industry.

Quality not quantity

It’s not a lack of effort, but a lack of knowledge and resources, that is resulting in these shortcomings. The good news is that there are many simple steps that salespeople can take to close the ‘knowledge gap’ between themselves and their clients.

For a start, sales teams should focus on the quality of their research, not the quantity. Effective insights can only be gained by understanding the factors that drive their clients’ business. This can often be achieved by asking a few simple questions, including: what are their capabilities to deliver a distinct customer value proposition? What competitive advantages do they have in the market? How are external forces impacting their business? What are their strategic options? And how ready are they to adopt new solutions?

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The evolution of the technology market has ushered in a new age of competitiveness. Extensive prospect lists and high volumes of meetings are no longer enough to bring in sales by themselves. Sales and business development professionals now have many more tools at their disposal to help them understand potential clients, and they should use them – before their competitors do.

The growth in the UK technology sector is here to stay. There is still ample opportunity for sales professionals to close the knowledge gap and take advantage of the sales opportunities available.

In the current climate, when budgets are smaller and competition greater than ever, it is vital that sales teams know their audience and are in tune with the challenges that their clients are actually facing. Those that know their customers will succeed – and those that don’t could lose out on one of the most exciting growth sectors in the world.

Sourced from Manoj Madhusudanan, managing director of InsightBee

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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