Welcome to the first “Selling IoT” Master Class!


First of all I want to apologize for the so pretentious title of this post. Everyone who follow me knows what I think about “The abuse of shocking headlines in IoT”. My intention is, with my post and with your valuable comments, to help those who are dedicated to the sale of Internet of Things (IoT) products and services to sell in a better way either if they are sales veterans or rookies, and to contribute they can keep their jobs.

In the picture of the post I have included some of the top CEOs of the tech titans companies that are defining their IoT strategy and are adapting their organizations for position themselves in this still highly fragmented market. Not that I believe that these CEOs are going to read my post, certainly I assume they already had received their Master Class, but just in case I hope that this content also useful and entertaining for them.

Note: I did not want to write this post talking about the pressure of salesmen, neither of the training and knowledge of IoT products, services, market and customers they have and of course about the types of salesmen (farmers or hunters) because there are a lot of literature on the matter and my contribution will not provide great value.

The evolution of M2M Vendors for sell IoT

We all know that the Internet of Things had long been lurking among us. Until a couple of years ago, his old brother Machine to Machine (M2M), had enjoyed great media coverage, but the sleeping beauty IoT has awakened,  and it is sweeping furiously the once worshiped M2M (at least in marketing maybe not yet on sales).

Companies selling M2M products and services for years are adapting, to forced marches, their value proposition and their sales messages and pitch. Some still try to cling before replace the obsolete M2M by the “coolest” IoT. Many of them continue selling the same products and services but, yes, now with the new label IoT.

A few weeks ago, I decided to share the below picture in LinkedIn and Twitter indicating some differences between selling M2M and selling IoT solutions. Thanks to your Likes and Shares I know it was very helpful for many of you as I received many thanks and comments. I really hope this photo makes easy your sales job.

As a final advice, in spite the above picture can be helpful, it is generic, so it is not the same if you are a M2M Service Provider or a Network Operator or a M2M Device Vendor or a M2M Solution Vendor, you need to go further and create a trusted history for your customers. And remember if you sell M2M you must be proud of it and do not try to mask as IoT. No needed.

Some comments received in LinkedIn

David Houghton

To be clear, an end to end IoT sale is highly consultative, ranging from strategy down to technology.

William H Conley III

I like this a lot. Companies often say they are a M2M/IoT company but when they are asked why they can not articulate why – this really helps. This brings me to a question: Is “M2M” commoditized, not to be confused with unnecessary, and should the focus be on “IoT”? Meaning: should the emphasis be on solutions & applications? My opinion is solutions & applications, ease-of-use is a must.

Alexandre Nogueira

Fully agree, Francisco. Most of the solutions being sold today are M2M, since no extra added value is extracted from the data, just interaction. Hopefully it will be part of the learning process

The evolution of IT Technology Vendors for sell IoT

For years, IT technology vendors have been struggling to get a big piece of the pie of some of the enablers of the IoT such as Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, mobile devices and smartphones and in some cases also connectivity. Now it is the turn of the IoT, or what they assume for this term.

IT technology vendors are approaching the growing customer interest in Internet of Things in a multitude of ways. Unfortunately not all of these ways are being successful.

I had the opportunity over the last two years to see and hear presentations from many of tech giants, and I have to say that their large army of marketing team, evangelists, sales, pre-sales and alliances have deployed all its artillery not to miss this huge opportunity. Really they are making strides to speak increasingly of what really matters to their customers and less about technology, platforms, services or their still immature and incomplete partner ecosystem.

In a recent web conference “Internet of Things Mid-Year Review”, IDC presented the results to the following question “Which Internet of Things providers do you plan to work with within the next two years?.  Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Google, Oracle and Apple was in the top list, besides AT&T and Verizon.  I share the picture below in LinkedIn and Twitter indicating some key messages and links to videos showing how these companies are selling IoT. One again, thanks to your Likes and Shares I know it was very helpful for many of you as I received many thanks and comments. Please note that this list is a result of IDC survey and maybe you, like me, cannot agree 100%.

If you watch some of these videos please take into account that there are only the pitch of top level management, for Field Sales there is another history, they need to remember every time they talk with their customer what is their priority that is not other than reach their product or services quotas.

As a final advice do not forget to make easy for your customers understand how they fit into the IoT Story with real use cases, business value of IoT, new business models applicable to their industries and tangible business benefits of innovate with IoT. It will be key for quick adoption.

The evolution of Industrial Engineering Vendors for sell IoT.

After I attended IOT Solution World Congress in Barcelona, I wrote my post “IoT Story: “To infinity and beyond !” . This event was a good test to understand how Industrial companies are approaching to Internet of Things. I also tested during my participation in IoT World Europe in Berlin. For Industries IoT means “smart home” or “consumer devices and services”.  Industrial Engineering vendors do not sell IoT they sell Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) but these companies do not want to miss the IoT Hype, real or not, so it is is better by now not continue using in their sales pitches the IoT.

Companies like GE, Bosch, National Instruments or Schneider Electric among others sell Industrial Internet as a vital need to transform the industries as a previous step to transform the society. The key messages I could hear from these Industrial Engineering sellers are based on how thanks to IoT technologies, companies has the potential for dramatic gains in efficiency and significant cost savings. Of course they also include some words as such as innovation, partnership or new business models.

Here below some videos to open your appetite for learn how to sell Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT):

I recommend if you still have not read it my post The value of partnership in Industrial Internet of Things where I point out that IIoT solutions are complex and dynamic and therefore takes a long time to sell. The industrial community is convinced that strategic alliances and partnerships are going to be key to achieve its potential.

The evolution of Start-ups for sell IoT

How IoT start-ups are selling their products or services? I differentiate between two main groups of IoT start-ups.

  • The first group includes start-ups launched for a young team of entrepreneurs with lack of experience selling enterprise solutions or consumer products. ,…). For this group the idea and the team is more valuable
  • The second group includes start-ups launched by industry veterans that either have decided to leave their frustrating work or they were fired by their companies and want pursue their dream of become their own boss with the new opportunity that IoT bring to them. For this group their contacts and professional background is probably more important.

For all IoT start-ups, selling IoT to end customers is very complicate but with so many incubators, accelerators, investors and large corporations interested in attract or invest in the most attractive IoT start-ups, the CEOs of these start-ups do not have to worry to sell to end customers their main focus must be how  to sell their companies, products and development  teams to these potential partners that can solve their problems of scarce resources, their lack of sales and marketing knowhow and the ability of creation of sales channels and collaboration models with integration partners.

If you are the CEO of an IoT startup with a good idea you must be in the radar of large corporations like Intel, Cisco, GE, Micrososft, Google, Samsung, AWS, or bit Telco like Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, TeliaSonera, Etisalat,…).

My friend and also mentor at Startupbootcamp accelerator Jaume, share some days ago in the main challenges of selling IoT Solutions post the following key findings.

  • Don’t bother customers with Power Points. Show them a solution.
  • Talk about today’s challenges instead of predictions about the future in 2020.
  • It Must Be Simple Fees
  • Customers have many doubts about their own Business Model with IoT.
  • It Is the Ecosystem, Stupid!
  • The “Yes, we can” do not apply in IoT.

I have to admit that I am favourably surprised by the evolution of the Start-ups. The CEOS of the IoT start-ups are able now to present effective and very professional sales pitch in front of investors, large audiences or specialized teams in large corporations. I still remember those golden final years of the 90s with the boom of the Internet and how many start-ups presented arrogant just because they had worked with Linux and knew how to create a web.

The Internet of Things is a breeding ground for new ideas that plays into the hands of start-ups as a matter of principle. In “How start-ups and corporations can jointly take the Internet of Things forward, I read this sentence that in spite we hear many times it is good to remember one more time “To implement innovations you need the creativity and flexibility of a start-up and the knowhow and resources of a corporate group”. “Uniting the best of both worlds, the ‘challenge up!’ start up initiative seeks to fire up the development of the Internet of Things”.

Selling IoT goes emotional

After I have seen, heard and read a lot of IoT sales presentations, podcast and articles and post, I can assure that selling IoT is becoming emotional.

Can we justify why a person or a family should buy a connected product?.  Could we present a business case that justify a company need to buy an IIoT solution?  Could we guarantee that the IoT service, IoT platform or IoT technology we try to sell will help your company improve their customer experience, improve efficiency and significant cost savings?

You have to think what will motivate these people or companies to spend a lot of money in new technology to perform a function that might be a bit more convenient but isn’t that much different.  If this is the case there will be no emotion worth. But if you are convinced that the IoT will really going to transform their lives and their companies, then you must use all your emotions to sell.

Be Passionate, Be Ambitious, Be Disruptive to sell IoT

Thanks in advance for your Likes, Shares and Comments.



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