Sales was once a dirty word, or perhaps you say it still is. But from where I stand, the culture and perspective around sales has changed dramatically in the last ten to fifteen years. As Sales Director for sustainable IT provider Aliter Networks in the Asia Pacific, I’ve got a few years of experience behind me now. My career journey began in Australia.
After moving there from Tamil Nadu, India. Over time, I worked for some of the biggest IT companies in the business, but it was when I moved to Singapore that I started working in the third party and sustainable IT space. And with that move, my sales perspective and approach shifted too.
SELLING A BETTER FUTURE
Skip forward to now, working for Aliter. Our product and service are refurbished, or circular IT equipment, which has clear benefits for people, planet and profit. We’re a niche offering, because the status quo is still for businesses to go with what they’ve always done – upgrading their IT and hardware when the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) says it’s time to do so.
Nevertheless, the customer sentiment around circular IT is changing fast – more and more companies are seeing it as a smart alternative and daring to try something new.
And so, my sales career journey became focused on educating prospects on the benefits of circular IT, creating awareness, building the market, and taking them through a new journey. A journey I see as one in which we’re selling a better future and driving sustainable change. It’s been incredibly satisfying for me.
Because supporting customers to embrace a truly better way of doing one part of their business, is something I believe in. It’s both the challenge and the beauty of what we do at Aliter.
You need to believe in what you do. Which I suppose is true for anything. And if you don’t, people will see through you eventually.
And so, sales for me, is about sharing our vision, our story of the future. Beyond the product. The product just happens to be part of the journey that takes us there.
THE MARKET MATTERS
But of course markets differ. We have clients in Europe and the Asia Pacific, where the latter is concentrated in Australia and Singapore. Here, in these Western countries, the sustainability education is well and truly there and the movement to be more sustainable (in many senses of the word) is at the forefront of many businesses.
However, we have clients in emerging countries too. And here, the sentiment differs. Take Nepal. They look at circular IT and understand the benefits for our planet but are driven by the commercial perks. Nepalese clients ask, “how am I going to make this work, or how can I get up and running with the best possible cost structure?” Before focusing on the sustainability benefits.
Every country, every business, is on their own sustainability journey. But where they are in the timeline differs. It’s important to be mindful of this when talking about the future.
At Aliter, we ask, “where are each of our clients and prospects in their sustainability journey?”, “What is of most value to them and why?” And then it’s about figuring out how we can collaborate with each other to drive change forward for mutual benefit.
For example, we’re working with service providers in emerging economies to upgrade their infrastructure and increase throughputs and performance in their network. We do this more cost-effectively by looking at N-1 generation products (products that are one generation older than their current models) and refurbished hardware, which helps them to offer new services to their clients.
When I think about the future of sales, and the journey I’ve been on, to me it’s clear that a more purposeful approach will benefit businesses and sales. Whether we’re talking refurbished IT equipment, cars, or holidays.
As salespeople, if we look beyond the what to the bigger picture, the why, and offer something more – value from the product or service that appeals to a business’ purpose and vision – that goes a long way.
And as businesses, if we question the status quo and commit to learning and innovating, we open the door to better ways of doing business. Which leads us to new forks in the road – towards a better, more sustainable future.
And while it’s true that we still have a way to go (OEM’s still pump out billions of dollars worth of brand-new hardware), I look at the IT industry and see an upcoming generation of IT decision makers practically wired to ask, “how can we do this in a way that is more sustainable?”
And that tells me that a purposeful business outlook is only gaining momentum.