Purchasing hardware technology is a lengthy process for brands. There are often multiple stakeholders invested in the decision, and buyers must weigh the risks and benefits that come with each unique package or service offering.
Add to this the sheer amount of choice available and it’s quick to see why the sales process for technology can be complex and nonlinear. There are also many decision-making resources involved, including product review sites, blog posts, vendor websites and feedback from stakeholders.
There’s a lot to consider, which is why it’s important to create a streamlined sales process that gives buyers all the information they need up front so they can make a well-educated decision.
In order to drive meaningful sales in this industry, you must speak proficiently and directly to key decision-makers and company influencers.
With a lot at stake and multiple team members with a finger in each pie, it’s crucial to first have a deep understanding of the buyer’s journey for hardware technology, and second, to optimize that process.
The fluid nature of this sales process cries out for optimization and engaging content that satisfies a number of stakeholders.
Hardware Tech: What the Sales Process Looks Like
Today’s hardware sales process is predominantly defined by two key characteristics:
- A multitude of options
- Better input all round
With so much information available with the click of a button or the tap of a finger, today’s buyers are the savviest yet. Dubbed “enlightened buyers,” they strive to make well-informed and rational decisions that strategically move their business forward.
Studies have shown that a typical hardware buying committee takes up to three months to make a decision. During this time, there is a lot of back and forth as stakeholders discuss and compare value, requirements, technical specs, ROI and budget.
On top of this, 38% of business professionals are involved in a cyclical and community-driven buying process usually led by the IT department.
So, what does the sales process actually look like in action?
According to a study from LinkedIn, it looks a bit like this:
- Needs Assessment – this is where businesses discuss the problem that needs to be solved and solutions that may be a good fit
- Specs and Funding – the point where brands hone in on the explicit specs of the solution they need and the budget they have available for it
- Vendor Selection – this marks the moment when businesses identify several possible vendors and start weighing the pros and cons of each
- Implementation – where the business starts implementing their chosen solution
- Management – the final stage involves managing the rollout of the solution and making sure everything goes to plan
How to Optimize the Sales Process for Marketing Hardware
Optimizing the process means honing in on each stage and identifying areas that can be improved. Buyers will be looking for specific information at each stage of the cycle, and businesses that provide them with this straight away will have more success than those that don’t.
Here’s how optimization might look for each stage of the sales funnel.
1. The Needs Assessment Stage
It can take a while for buyers to understand what exactly it is they’re looking for. Your job at this stage is to focus on their biggest pain points and position your marketing hardware as the best solution.
First, you’ll need a set of targeted buyer personas that illustrate each potential member of the decision-making committee. This will help you figure out what each one needs from you so you can provide them with the most appropriate content.
Do this by:
- Surveying key stakeholders
- Listening to customer feedback and reviews
- Hosting interviews with your best customers to learn more about their unique needs
All of this will help fuel the sales process and ensure you’re offering the most fitting product or service for buyers.
2. Specs and Funding
Here, you’re essentially showing prospects what they can get for their budget. Your job is to position your offerings as the best solution within a buyer’s set price range.
To do this, you’ll need to differentiate your business from competitors. This can be achieved by:
- Providing use cases for similar businesses
- Sharing case studies and what can be achieved with your offerings
- Focusing on the benefits of your offering rather than the features (although it’s important to mention the features, too)
- Hopping on a call or demo to discuss unique use cases with individual buyers
- Creating a comparison chart listing the pros and cons of your main competitors
Connection does a great job of creating case studies that show prospective clients what their capable of and how they can help solve a prospect’s challenge.
3. Vendor Selection
At this point, buyers will be comparing their options and speaking with a variety of businesses. To help them slip from this stage to the next, make sure you’re creating the right content for the decision-makers involved.
This is where the committee will come together and make a united decision, so tapping into all of their needs will help you stand head and shoulders above the competition.
Use the information gathered during the persona creation stage to put together content for each pain point. For example, the executive board will want to know about cost and implementation, while the creative team might want to know more about the actual process of working with you.
4. Implementation and Management
Creating a speedy implementation process is the key to onboarding new prospects as quickly as possible. If it takes too long, they might jump ship and get their needs met elsewhere.
Use feedback from previous buyers to create a streamlined implementation process that tackles any objections that customers might have.
To manage each buyer, the key is to build a slick process that you can roll out as necessary. For example, you might schedule monthly check-ins or build out a process for each stage of the service, like creating a mock-up brochure for approval before committing to a final design.
Optimization for Long-Term Success
Optimizing the sales process for marketing hardware is a case of understanding your buyers’ needs (including the needs of each stakeholder) and using this information to fuel the content created at each stage.
The important thing to note is the number of decision-makers involved and the key benefits they’re looking for. By optimizing each stage of the sales cycle, you can quickly create a streamlined process that continues to bring in new buyers.