Can the technical learn to sell to the non technical?

Preparing for a technical presentation

You have a new sales team for your technical product – you need to improve sales and you’re considering training – but you’ve read that most courses teaching sales skills will fail to deliver sustained results, and you worry even if you find a good trainer, they will struggle to grasp your product or market:

Point Taken Training writes:

The Affleck dilemma

Love it or loathe it, the chances are you’ve come across Michael Bay’s 1998 Cinematic Masterpiece / Disaster-piece “Armageddon”. But for the uninitiated, the film’s premise is that a team of burly, roughneck, rig operators are drafted-in by NASA to take a crash-course in becoming astronauts so they can fly a rocket to a massive, earthbound asteroid and drill into its core to place and detonate a nuclear weapon, thus averting its deadly descent into earth’s atmosphere.

Cinematic legend has it that very early in production, star Ben Affleck provoked the lasting distain of Director Michael Bay when he enquired simply “"Why is it easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts than to train astronauts to become oil drillers?”. He received a two-word reply.

If you have a sales team with a scientific or technical product, you will likely have seen a similar dynamic come into play and in a majority of cases an employer is going to find it far simpler to train an experienced scientist or engineer to sell their product than it would be to teach an experienced non-technical salesperson four years’ worth of degree-level understanding or more. So in most cases when onboarding new members to the sales team they will come from a technical background with no sales experience, not the other way round.

However, the in-house process for training technical sales staff will typically involve a focus on ensuring a strong understanding of the technical aspects of the product and will often neglect training on sales or presentation skills.

Train in vain

If you’ve looked at Sales Training courses, you’ve likely discovered that the same reasons that mean you can’t train a “sales professional” for your role will also mean you’ll likely struggle to find a relevant sales training course and in addition you may also have been told or seen research to suggest that the skills taught simply don’t stick. Add in the reputation for ‘Snake Oil’ types in the industry and it can seem sensible to concentrate on in-house training and hope that the strength of the product will win out in the end. Until it doesn’t.

When you’ve got that killer product but you’re seeing the projected take-up, it’s easy to appreciate that the Sales process is more complicated than simply knowing the science of a given area or having knowledge of the client landscape. There is clearly a less definable ‘art‘ to good Sales that goes beyond the product or market knowledge. We know from our own everyday interactions that body language, empathy, timing, clarity and conciseness of language all play a huge part in how successfully we communicate. So, if your staff have been used to solitary lab work or scrutinising data all day, you can probably appreciate that being thrust into a client-facing role can feel daunting and stage fright can hamper a presentation or even dissuade your reps from making contact at all.

This is where communication and presentation training with Point Taken Training can help. As a speech development and communication specialist, I work with people to overcome the challenges that are barriers to successful communication and give them tools to help achieve their desired outcomes in meetings and presentations.

Don't sell - speak

As new technologies cause previously niche markets to become increasingly crowded, it’s these “soft skills” that will become an increasingly important differentiator in your sales team’s skillset. Here at Point Taken Training we teach communication and presentation skills, not sales skills – so rather than teaching your staff to look for “buying signals” or use “closing language” we will help them to pick up on non-verbal cues, how to use empathy to invite and deal with feedback during a live presentation, or how to use different methods of communications for online presentations and how to deal with negative reactions.

A little background on previous successes

Since 2014, I have worked with many technical staff who have incredible technical knowledge but lack the ability to take that knowledge and adapt it for a non-technical audience. They also lack the experience and confidence to present. This can lead to the ‘sales pitch’ being uncomfortable, disconnected, unfocused and without impact.

Together we would look at how to feel more confident by changing the mindset and managing feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. How to understand your audience’s perspective, and the power of words. Making sure that the words you choose to use, have been consciously chosen to use for an effective explanation for that specific audience, to meet their expectations and knowledge.

By also focusing on a variety of skills like vocal techniques, pronunciation clarity and body posture, these members of staff saw immediate improvements in their success rate.

Better communication - better outcome

If a Salesperson sounds unsure, stumbles over key terms, has unique pronunciation of standard words or simply looks nervous, this can lead to the prospect projecting this uncertainty onto the product and declining the sale. We have proven success in improving outcomes for our clients and can quickly assess if we can offer similar benefits in your organisation – if you’d be interested in a chat about how we can help then please call for a no-strings consultation.

I offer personalised coaching that will develop a sales professional’s ability to communicate clearly effectively and with confidence. At Point Taken believe the best way to train and develop is in real-time practice scenarios. With our courses we will take you through exercises in real time and give you personalised guidance in a confidential setting.

Areas covered include

  • Confidence

  • Speed of delivery

  • Body language and eye contact

  • Using the voice to add expression and colour

  • Use breathing and posture exercises to improve voice projection.

  • How to use eye-contact, pacing and other delivery techniques to keep in-person and online sales presentation engaging.

  • Pronunciation, articulation, and accent softening techniques for native and non-native speakers.

At Point Taken we don’t offer courses in ‘Sales Techniques’ – our courses do not pretend to teach the ability to win at negotiation or influence prospective clients to close quick deals. We look at fundamentals in speech and communication to help build clear and confident communicators who can effectively sell your products to a wide audience.


Point Taken is a training consultancy specialising in building an individual’s ability to communicate effectively and with confidence.

PointTaken Training