The game of selling for introvert engineers

Hello! I assume if you scheduled this 1:1 you already heard about the sales quota. I felt the same, sounded like a scary big number. How can you go from writing world-class code to selling five figures projects? 

I was there five years ago. I’ve managed to play this game, closed big deals, and find my way through it. Selling is a big part of consulting. Someone has to get the projects through the door that way other people can write code.

Let me share some of the stuff I learned. We have finite time, I’ll share the lessons and a brief explanation. We’ll be able to dive deeper into these lessons in future conversations. 

Different games of selling

Selling groups a lot of different games. Your first task is to identify which are you playing. Then you can find out how to win. Some examples of these games:

  • Selling to an enterprise client or internal team. You put together a proposal or pitch, you convince them your team can deliver the work, and explain how much money they are going to make. You can contribute a lot building the architecture and making sure estimations look realistic. There will be nuances between enterprise and internal, much more related to how much paperwork or how many questions they are going to ask.
  • Providing people to other teams that are delivering big projects. Some people do not consider this selling, but these are the same dollars as the other game. In this game, you’ll look for the right person, prep them for the internal interview, and make sure their CV looks awesome. 

I do not recommend trying to play all the games, choose one and get good at it.

Your network is your biggest asset

Let me start by saying your network is big and valuable. You are thinking otherwise because you are not visualizing it and capitalizing on it. Let me show you how:

  • Go into your inbox and search for people you’ve interacted with or helped in the past. Build a simple list with their email and the topic. Once you start selling add people who you’ve managed to sell or who you were not able to help (not enough capacity, a competitor won…)
  • Now that you have your magic list. Start saying hello. Send simple emails periodically based on the level of trust. If you talk a lot you can do it every 2 weeks, if not you can move it every 3 months. 
  • Use the holidays or press releases to find an excuse to say hello. Send a New Years’ message or congratulate them for being featured in the company newsletter. You do not need to sell on these emails just say hello. They will have you top of mind. 

Operational Excellence

This sounds a big complex word, but it’s pretty simple. Do what you said you were going to do. Move fast, when people are looking for something time is of the essence. This does not mean sending half-baked proposals or CVs. If they are not ready that is ok, but let them know in a timely manner. 

The best way to accomplish this is by building a system. Make sure the CVs are updated and organized. Make sure you have nice templates and boilerplate content for your proposals. Organize your time and meet your deadlines. Build trust by being someone they can rely on. If you said you will answer by EOD, show up even if you do not have the answer yet. 

Remember it’s a numbers game

There is no algorithm for sales. You can do everything perfectly and still lose. There are humans involved here and they are not rational. There is also luck involved. Do not feel bad if you lose, you’ll lose deals here and there. 

Think about sales as playing the lottery. You don’t know the winning number but you control how many tickets do you buy. You buy tickets by doing the right things. The more tickets you buy the more chances you have of winning. You cannot buy all the tickets. There is always a chance, even small that someone else wins. 

Closing advice

There is more advice but let’s start applying the ones we discussed today. In the following meetings we can talk about:

  • Predict the problems they are going to have
  • Doing the right thing
  • If you confuse you loose 

These will have to wait, we need to move to our next meeting.

Get in the water, start writing some emails and help with some proposals. Let me know if you have any questions or you find yourself in a tricky situation.

Happy selling!


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