Steve Smith, sales manager at Chillisoft, has over 20 years experience in the IT industry.
His background includes building his own IT business in South Africa. The company specialised in IT security technologies including the range of ESET Security Products and was eventually bought by a large telco.
Originally working hands-on in IT, Steve’s experience and technical certifications in Microsoft networking solutions mean he is able to converse comfortably from engineering through to CIO level in sales and technical discussions but sales are what occupies his time now.
What is your experience with your products?
I’ve been working with ESET solutions for over 10 years, originally in South Africa and now in New Zealand, from home users through to large complex corporate sites. My background is technical so I know what solution is appropriate and what is not.
How do you deal with rejection?
Rejection often means that the customer is not ready for our products right now but might be in the future, so I always ask for permission to keep in touch. And I also put their picture on our office dartboard.
How do you prepare for a major sales pitch?
Research – I always research the clients I am about to pitch too. It’s not stalking but rather knowing the person's interests and level so that when I do the pitch, it’s at a level the potential client can understand.
Have you ever suffered from over-confidence?
No, a bit of nervousness when I walk into a room keeps me on my toes.
Does how you look affect how the prospect sees you?
Absolutely. The IT industry accepts “business casual” well but you have to be careful not to take that too far. Sometimes a suit or jacket is needed.
Have you ever been truly stumped at a question from your prospective customer?
It can happen and if I don’t know something, I prefer to be honest and arrange to follow up with an answer later. You’ll always get caught out if you lie or expect the pre-sales engineer to “make it work”.
What’s the best deal you have ever closed?
I’ve done some fantastic deals here in NZ but biggest one to date was selling to an ISP in South Africa a 450,000-seat ESET Mail Security licence.
Do you remember the very first deal you ever closed?
I still have the original invoice in my archives but every deal still feels as good as the first one due to the excitement it brings.
Do you actively use body language to influence your customers?
I don’t actively think about it but I’m naturally friendly and sociable, so people are usually comfortable with me and trust me. Always look them in the eye so they can be assured you mean what you say.
Have you ever used a psychological trick in closing a deal?
I failed my hypnotism course so I stick to the no bull approach and leave the “discount if you buy today only” to used car sales people.
What’s your best sales tip?
Believe what you are selling, never lie to get a deal and know when to walk away.
Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales?
If they can make enough money for me to retire at a young age then definitely.