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Line of business selling 101: sell business outcomes, not technology products

CIOs are cutting budgets, but other business departments are increasing their spending this year.

July 14, 2020

Line of business selling 101: sell business outcomes, not technology products
Doing business with just one decision-maker at a company (e.g., the CIO or IT manager) may seem like an efficient way to sell—until that decision-maker leaves the company, and you have to start at ground zero again. Another vital point to keep in mind: What if that person’s budget gets cut?
 
The latest research from Gartner suggests that’s exactly what’s happening this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gartner predicts CIO’s IT spending will drop 8% in 2020, which translates to $300 billion fewer being spent compared with 2019.
 
A surprising finding in the study, however, is that other departments are actually increasing their spending this year. Public cloud services, for example, which are often driven by line of business (LOB) decision-makers, are projected to see a 19% bump this year because companies have to be more digital than they planned to be. Software that automates processes is also expected to see an uptick this year, driven by CFOs seeking greater efficiencies.
 
If your salespeople have been selling technology solutions predominantly to CIOs and IT managers, here are a few tips and insights to help them start selling to LOB decision-makers.
 
Tip #1: LOB decision-makers care more about business outcomes than technology
Even though you may still sell many of the same technology solutions this year, how you sell them will likely be very different. Many IT managers and CIOs focus on topics like infrastructure compatibility, scalability and security, but they often don’t tie technology investments directly back to specific business outcomes.
 
LOB decision-makers (e.g., CFO, COO, VP of sales, VP of manufacturing), on the other hand, care about achieving specific business outcomes first and foremost, and the solution infrastructure details are way less important to them.
 
Tip #2: Each LOB decision-maker is responsible for achieving a specific set of KPIs
Your sales reps need to understand the key performance indicators (KPIs) each LOB executive is responsible for before attempting to sell them a “solution.” For example, a VP of sales is most likely accountable for revenue, margin growth and how quickly new sales reps meet their quotas. A VP of manufacturing, on the other hand, cares about reducing scrap and rework and achieving production run deadlines. Most CFOs focus on cash flow, cost reductions and overall company profitability.
 
Tip #3: Show how your solution meets their business needs
After understanding the LOB decision-maker’s challenges, the sales rep has to show how a proposed technology solution solves the decision-maker’s problem or achieves the desired business outcome. Ideally, if you can contrast the cost of not solving the problem or achieving the result with the solution cost, you’ll significantly increase your chances of winning the sale.
 
Ingram Micro and Cisco are here to help
Ingram Micro and Cisco offer several resources to help partners make the transition to LOB selling. One example is the Ingram Micro Business Transformation Center, located in Buffalo, NY, which showcases a comprehensive array of technology designed to expand and accelerate your go-to-market abilities.
 
The center features technology across several key verticals, like healthcare, education and retail, so your salespeople and prospective clients can see selected solutions in their day-to-day use-case scenarios. Plus, our solution center engineers are available to assist you and your customers via live and remote-access training sessions, proof-of-concept demonstrations, personalized tours, consultations and more.
 
Schedule your engagement today, and see for yourself how the Ingram Micro Business Transformation Center helps our partners close deals 90% of the time: BTC@ingrammicro.com.