Building up the skill sets for complex sales

Complex solutions require more selling skills, according to Ramkumar Balakrishnan of Redington Gulf

Tags: Channel developmentRedington Gulf
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Building up the skill sets for complex sales
By  Andrew Seymour Published  February 13, 2011

The increasing complexity of technology solutions means that sales teams must raise their knowledge to stay in the game. Ramkumar Balakrishnan, General Manager of Value Business, Redington Gulf, explains how the VAD is helping its partners to upscale their skills for success.

Channel Middle East: What sort of skills does a reseller need to sell the products you offer today? Do these skills differ depending on product set – if so, how?

Ramkumar Balakrishnan: As value-added distributors, we act as the bridge between manufacturers that invent the technology and the system integrators/resellers who implement the same. Obviously, the technology solutions we are offering nowadays are becoming more and more complex, while customer needs have become even more specific and specialised. We therefore see the need for resellers to urgently pick up a specific core competence and specialise on the same. There is also a dearth of quality skills in the market to support some of the latest emerging technologies, which the manufacturers are pushing and the end customers want to implement. With new advances and concepts being implemented in the industry and manufacturers wanting their innovations to quickly reach the market, it is high time that each reseller chooses one area and starts building a specialisation around it to stay competitive in the business.

Channel Middle East: What sort of sales training do you offer to your reseller customers and to what extent do you work with your vendor partners to deliver this?

Ramkumar Balakrishnan: Redington has initiated specialized training for reseller customers in their core competencies. In line with this, Redington has recently launched the ‘Partner Connect’ program, which serves as an integrated vendor information platform for promotions, trainings, resources and other value-added benefits for our partners. The program encompasses over 15 brands under one umbrella, and spans technology domains such as networking, voice, servers, storage, software, security and infrastructure. This initiative is also in line with our commitment towards helping our partners develop their technical expertise and their skills in selling new and existing products and solutions.

Channel Middle East: What investments are you making when it comes to empowering your reseller customers with the sales skills they need to succeed in the market?

Ramkumar Balakrishnan: The investments we are making can be put into three buckets - skilled resources who are trained well enough to in turn train resellers in the market; online training tools like WEBEX, and our proof of concept centres and training facilities in Dubai, Saudi and Nigeria.

Channel Middle East: What makes a good sales person? Is it just someone who can offer the end-customer the best price or biggest discount, or is there more to it than that?

Ramkumar Balakrishnan: Some of the key traits of a good sales person include a genuine desire to help people, being a good listener and a never-give-up attitude. Being able to understand consumer behavior is also important as well as the ability to get your ideas across to consumers rather than just trying to make them buy the product by offering best prices or big discounts. A good sales person must also understand the strengths and weaknesses of the product being sold. Customers nowadays are being bombarded with hundreds of items being sold to them everyday; in this regard, it is equally important to establish a goal-directed salesmanship as it is to have strong financial foundations and wide geographical reach.

Channel Middle East: How do you see the role of the sales person changing over the next five years?

Ramkumar Balakrishnan: The role of the sales person will keep changing and evolving as new technologies enter the market, which will in turn alter the choices and demands of consumers. For example, some of the emerging technologies that are being talked about nowadays include cloud offerings, video as a strategy under unified communications and enterprise mobility - security and availability. We therefore need sales people who are specially trained and skilled to be able to support these technologies and several other emerging technologies in the market.

Channel Middle East: What are the biggest challenges that sales people working for resellers face in the market today?

Ramkumar Balakrishnan: Some of the biggest challenges that sales people face today include the growing complexity of new technologies being introduced, constantly changing needs of customers, and intense market competition. Sales personnel thus need to thoroughly plan out their strategies to boost their chances of achieving their sales targets. Moreover, it is vital that sales persons enhance their core competencies particularly in more specialized fields of expertise or product categories.

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