On approach to IT, Justin Agnew learned to fly
The CloserBy No byline, Auckland | Thursday, 09 August 2012
What did you do before IT?
I worked at McDonald’s when I left school (which drilled systems into me) and had various jobs while studying – everything from working at the local liquor store, working on the Xtra helpdesk, call centre work at Auckland Council to Harvey Normans on the sales floor – Although those jobs may seem uninspiring to some, it was during those years I was taught the fundamentals of sales.
I once dreamed about being an astronaut. Then I trained as a pilot – then I discovered IT. I love IT and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Our industry has so many verticals, it’s impossible to become bored.
Do targets stress you out?
I cope well with stress. If I was bad at my job – and didn’t have a clue how to sell or never seemed to hit target – I could see how that would change. The key is to understand and track your performance on a timeline that is long enough to see the big picture. In our industry we can have two dismal months followed by two record shattering months. If you let the months where you didn’t hit target get you down, this can drastically reduce your chances of a success in future months.
What makes a good sales pitch good?
I think about everything during the planning process. I try to talk to the right people, get the correct technical advice about the solutions and always run through how the deal will work when we win. At the end of the day, any uncertainty about the solution from the sales person will show through in your pitch. When you are selling to a room of intelligent business people, they will pick up on your lack of planning in minutes.
People hate being sold to. I spent years watching others try to sell based on irrelevant technical jargon and overcomplicated fluff. People want to buy from people and they want to buy from people they can trust. This is especially true when selling to small business owners directly; after all it is their own money you are pitching for which is more personal than larger corporates.
Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
I would consider myself more of an educator. The more comfortable someone is about the subject matter (and IT can be pretty complicated sometimes) – the more confident they become – the more confident they are – the easier it is to say yes. Every now and then you come across some prospects that want to be sold to. It’s cheesy and I always feel like I need a shower afterwards.
How do you balance time spent between product knowledge training with generating leads or opportunities?
Finding business opportunities in IT is simple – so it leaves a lot of time available to learn about products and solutions and designing cutting edge delivery methods. I don’t like to rely entirely on my technical team during the sales process. I need to know what I am selling – I have a solid technical background as well – having trained in IT and worked as a technician for many years so that certainly helps.
What’s the best deal you have ever closed?
My first real tender situation where I was pitching up against some very well known and respected peers in the industry. We won the deal and that provided the team with an overwhelming sense of achievement.
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