After years of evangelization and waiting for the promises of the internet of things to come true, it seems that we are finally close to reaching the trough of disillusionment phase, when we begin to forget all the hype generated so far and focus on reality — a harsh reality that involves selling IoT and not selling smoke anymore.
The time to sell IoT is now
The sale of IoT is perhaps more complex than the sale of other disruptive technologies, such as big data, cloud or AI, and maybe as complex as blockchain today. In the article “Welcome to the first ‘selling IoT’ master class,” I commented how it should be the evolution of M2M and IT technology vendors to sell IoT. However, many of these companies still have difficulty forming and finding good sellers of IoT.
The truth is that nowadays it does not make any sense to sell IoT as a technology. Enterprise buyers only want to buy technologies that provide measurable business outcomes while, on the other side, many IoT vendors want to sell their portfolio of products and services that have been categorized under the umbrella of IoT either as quickly as possible or at the lowest possible cost.
During last five years, I have been analyzing how IoT companies sell their products and services. Some of my customers, including startups, device vendors, telco operators, platform vendors, distributors, industry applications and system integrators, asked me to create IoT sales material to train their sales team on selling their IoT solutions and services. Sometimes I also help head hunters or customers searching for IoT sales experts.
Based on this varied experience, I have launched “IoT sales workshops” to help companies train their internal teams to sell IoT. Here are some of the lessons I learned:
- There is a time to act as an IoT sales generalist, and a time to act as an IoT specialist.
- You need to adapt IoT storytelling based on your audience.
- Being an IoT expert is not synonymous with being successful in selling IoT.
- You need to show how companies can get more out of IoT by solving a specific business problem.
- Make it easy for the customer to see the benefits of your IoT product or IoT service, as well as the value it adds.
- Given the complexity and specialization of IoT by vertical, explain the need to focus more closely on business cases and IoT business models, as well as the ROI over three to four years before jumping into technology.
- You need to be patient; IoT selling is not easy and takes time to align strategy and business needs with the IoT products and services you are selling.
- Build a strong ecosystem and adoption of end-to-end IoT systems easier by collaborating with partners.
- Train IoT business and technical experts to get better at telling stories. Design a new marketing and sales communications playbook. Keep it simple. Build your narrative from the foundation up — one idea at a time.
- If you want an IoT sales expert, you need to pay for one — don’t expect miracles from external sales agents working on commission.
- IoT sales is a full-time job. You will not have time for other enterprise activities.
- Selling IoT to large enterprises takes teamwork.
- Be persistent. Do not expect big deals soon.
- Be passionate, be ambitious and be disruptive to sell IoT.
I do not consider myself an IoT sales expert, nor a superman of sales. In fact, I have shied away from classifying myself as a salesperson, even though over time I have given weight and value to this work that once seemed derogatory to me.
Selling IoT is not easy. In a few years, we will forget about IoT and sell newly hyped technologies. But in the meantime, you need to be prepared for disillusionment — long sales cycles and a lot of work with sometimes poor results. However, I don’t know — maybe by 2020, if you persevere, you will be awarded as “best IoT sales expert” and will finally earn a lot of money.
Just remember: Be persistent, be passionate, be ambitious and be disruptive to sell IoT.
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