Expert insights for sales, operations, capture, proposal, and marketing pros.

Go the Extra Mile: Public Sector Sales Insights from Eric DiProspero

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Eric DiProspero is the Senior Director of North American Sales for OpenGov, an industry-leading government software company, providing local government cloud services. We sat down with Eric to ask him about his success in selling to the public sector. Read a transcript of our interview below:

How long have you been working in sales?

10 years

What is the most satisfying part of your role in sales?

Problem-solving and achieving positive outcomes. I view engagements with customers and prospective customers as big puzzles. Specifically, in the public sector, there are always hurdles to overcome, organizational dynamics in play, and unforeseen complexities that require you to put on your thinking cap and maintain a positive attitude. Sometimes it feels like you are trying to complete a complex puzzle while the pieces are changing. Continually making progress throughout an engagement, adapting to and overcoming objections, all while partnering with a customer to earn a contract, is extremely rewarding.

What most inspires you about other sales professionals you’ve met over the years?

What inspires me the most about other go-to-market (GTM) professionals are the ones who have a “never say die” attitude and an entrepreneurial mindset. Bonus points if you can inspire people both on your side and the customer’s side of the table. A positive mindset and outlook in a GTM role can make all the difference in the world. There is a Nelson Mandela quote that hits the nail on the head of this mindset: “I never lose. I either win or learn”. The ability to have a positive outlook, an entrepreneurial mindset, and be the “CEO” of your own business, territory or franchise, is the winning combination.

What are your top three tips for success in today’s sales environment?

1. Be thorough and go the extra mile. 90% of salespeople cut corners. Do not be in the 90%. Be in the 10%. You earn business from customers when they know and trust you, when you establish your value and credibility, and when they know they can depend on you and your company. Whether it is in how you are crafting a proposal, making an extra phone call or two, coming prepared to a meeting with your research completed, or checking the boxes on the “technical win”, by not cutting corners you ensure your own success while also empowering your customer’s success. Your customer’s success will ultimately manifest itself into referenceability and credibility for you and your company (something that is critical in the public sector).

2. Be a team player and a team seller. In short, no “Lone Wolves” allowed. Use your resources to your advantage. Leverage your team, partners, networks, or whoever it may be, to your advantage. Customers expect you to show up with resources and teams that align to the critical areas of technical fit, contracting, or subject matter expertise. In addition to the team you bring to the table, you’ll need to identify and engage the right stakeholders on the customer’s side to maximize success in every opportunity. Specifically, in the public sector decisions are made in a consensus manner, and without having the right people raise their hands to say “I’m in”, it is near impossible to get things accomplished.

3. Recognize patterns or “ingredients” in opportunities. In order to bake a cake, you of course must have common ingredients like sugar, flour, and eggs. To have a successful opportunity, you likewise have common components or “ingredients” based on your product or service. Knowing what the common patterns or components of an opportunity are (and being able to recognize them) will help you understand where you are and where you need to be in your sales opportunities.

What is something you wish others understood about the importance of sales as a profession?

It’s okay for the vendor and customer to be on the same side of the table. Too often, customers or vendors want to be guarded with information because they think the other party will use that information against them. The most successful engagements and customers I have witnessed are when all the facts are on the table. Whether they’re budget constraints, functionality, personality differences, or anything else, knowing that the facts are on the table and that everyone is working to a common outcome exponentially increases the success for both sides.

What advice do you have for your peers in similar roles around the world?

Coming from someone in a leadership role, it’s simple: lead from the front. Don’t ever ask others to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.

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