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Navigating Today's IT Choices

The IT industry is continuing on its apropos trajectory toward a landscape that is constantly transformed by today’s ever-evolving, disruptive applications. And along with the applications, there are a lot of buzz-worthy terms that get thrown around, like digital transformation, the consumerization of IT, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything, containers, clouds, microservices and serverless, to name a few. Moreover, just about every company wants to become the Uber of its  industry.

But what do all these terms and business goals mean for the IT professional?  

IT distractions

The challenge starts with the gluttony of choices for IT services. In IT, there are always a multitude of ways to complete a task or solve any given problem. Now, multiply that by the countless services that vendors are productizing across on-premises, off-premises and -as-a-service and it’s becoming an endless sea of solutions decision-making.

This can lead an IT organization into technology debt as well as vendor lock-in. Modern IT professionals and their organizations are in a continuous loop of optimizing for every solution with data from multiple streams, which often translates into optimizing for nothing at all.

Furthermore, the variety of IT services have led to many different labels, terms, and semantics for constructs that are essentially the same thing, but are cloaked in vendor-ese. For instance, AWS EC2 instances are equivalent constructs to VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs) or Azure VMs, just as AWS S3 storage is comparable to Azure Blob Storage.

The nomenclature confusion can strain time and resources as IT professionals must subsequently understand not only the fundamental construct, but the subtle differences in constructs as well. As such, applied use cases and normalization become key to successfully navigating the correct path towards choosing the right solution for any given situation. Unfortunately, the differences in terminology often translate to wasted cycles spent on something other than finding the right solution.

What can an IT professional do to cut through the solutions glut, find the right path for their organization, and ultimately advance their IT career? Surprisingly, the answer may be to become a master of sales.

It may seem oxymoronic to lump IT and sales together, but to cut through the services clutter, IT professionals need to adopt skills that top sales professionals leverage so they can influence the people, process and technology decision-making process within their own organizations.

How does this help the IT professional decide on a solution? In the simplest terms, sales best practices force an IT professional to have ready answers to questions like, “What is the problem that needs to be solved?” instead of focusing on speeds and feeds or the latest wunderkind technology. This focus on solutions enables an IT professional to cut through marketing hype and pick the right solution for the specific needs in their data center environment versus being sold on the promise of something that might ultimately cost them their job.    

Sales skills for IT pros

There are seven simple sales steps IT professionals can take advantage of:

  1. Start with solving the problem, not focusing on the features. This sets expectations for delivery as well as resource needs.
  2. Master the solution. Know the solution inside and out, as well as when and where to apply the solution and when and where the solution does not apply.
  3. Put the solution into a process. This adds consistency, rigor and control.
  4. Perfect the presentation pitch. Learn to deliver a persuasive presentation or argument that leads to an obvious decision or conclusion. Make sure it highlights the path to the right choice.
  5. Move the pitch forward. Always keep eyes on the final prize.
  6. Position value while balancing the cost of investment. Include time and effort in the overall cost factor.
  7. Monitor and regulate time and attitude. The most important thing an IT professional can control in this process is mindset.    

IT and sales often go together like water and oil. Yet, skills that successful sales folks use can be applied equally well by IT professionals to advance their solutions, their organizations, and their careers.