Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Helpful Hints for Technology Sales People

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Okay, look, this is getting ridiculous.

I’m a one-man IT shop.  Okay, technically, I do have someone else and some consultants, but they’re all at other locations and, pretty much, everyone still comes to me first anyway.  So, effectively, I’m a one-man IT shop.  That means I’m busy.  No, really, I’m busy pretty much every minute that I’m even close to the office.  And, I’m trying to get out of the office by 5:00PM.  Well, by 5:30PM.  Okay, honestly, I try not to stay past 6:00PM more than twice a week.  Which means my time is a very precious commodity and if you waste it, I will have strong negative feelings toward you.  Strong negative feelings.

This should be pretty apparent to anyone who watches me work, or try to work, and answer phone calls from every cold-calling, knuckle-dragger who’s been tasked with trying to get me to notice their product for which I do not have the time to implement or, most likely, the budget to purchase.  Now, to be fair, the average sales drone who’s tasked with calling me doesn’t know this.  They can’t know it, as they have never met me before or been to the morass of paper and spare parts that I call a server room, er, rather, that I call my office.  But, I’m going to do them a favor and outline some sure-fire ways to lose my sale.

First, like I’ve already mentioned, don’t waste my time.
Don’t show up unannounced at my office pretending that we have a meeting.  I will leave you sitting in the waiting room all day long.  For real.  I’ve done it.  I don’t even feel very guilty about it.  Why?  Well, you were willing to waste my time, so why should I worry about wasting yours?
Don’t call me and tell me that you have a great product or service or idea or whatever to tell me about, but refuse to give me any details about unless we meet in person.  Worse, if I seem interested but want to know about pricing, since I have a very limited budget, don’t be coy about giving me the information.  I know how to read a proposal and a tiered-pricing spreadsheet.  Honest.  I’ve done this for almost 20 years at this point.  I don’t need you to hold my hand.  Really.

Second, be honest.
If I ask you a direct question, give me a direct answer.  Look, I work in IT now, but I have a degree in Marketing.  Sure, it’s a little old and dusty, but, you know what?  Sales techniques haven’t actually changed that much since I did that kind of work.  So, when I ask if you do something or if your product does something, don’t give me some circular answer about interfacing with one of your business partners.  I asked you.  Can your product do what I asked or not?  It’s simple, really.  It’s binary, like computers.  Yes or no.  Often the answer to the direct questions I ask take care of the first problem for both of us.
Also?  If I ask you a deeply technical question about your product and you don’t know? Just admit that you don’t know.  Don’t guess.  Don’t try to play off my question.  And, again, don’t offer to involve another company in “our” solution.  I just want to know what you’re asking me to pay for out of my very limited budget.  It’s okay to get back to me later with an answer and pricing.
Just a word of warning about this, if you promise me that your product will do something it cannot do, I will not pay you.  It’s that simple.

Third, high-pressure techniques do not work with me.
Maybe they work with someone, but the harder you push me, the less inclined I am to give you money.  I honestly don’t care if you have a great deal, because if you try to rush me into something, I suspect that you’re trying to keep me from taking the time to think about what you’re doing.  And, if you are trying to get me to spend money without thinking it all the way through, there’s a reason.  Usually, a reason that is not to my benefit, but yours.
Also?  High-pressure sales went out with loud ties, junk bonds and easy mortgages.  And, I’ll be honest, they didn’t work on me then, either.  Nothing has changed for me since then.  I still tend to respond to high-pressure sales techniques with barely restrained violence.  If you’re still using them, go back to blood-sucking, parasitic, low-life school and learn something new.

Fourth, I do not care that you are a hot chick.
Yeah, this sounds sexist and misanthropic, but I see plenty of beautiful women in tech sales.  I get it.  Really, I do.  I’m a one-hundred-percent, red-blooded, American male and I love to look at beautiful women as much as the next guy, but I don’t care about that when you’re selling me tech gear.  For real.  For one thing, I was married to an absolutely gorgeous woman, so I know just what kind of hell their personal life really is like.  For another, I’m pretty sure that I will never, ever have access to a budget that will entice one of you to sleep with me, so, again, I just don’t care.  It doesn’t matter.  Not even if you flirt with me.  Honest.  So, you know, it’s okay to just stop.  Really.  Because it will not effect my decision to buy, or not buy, your product.
So help me, if another company sends me some Barbie doll who just blinks at me when I ask a marginally technical question about their technology product, someone will be hurt.  Seriously, at least put people in the field who know how to get me a Support Tech faster than just calling the 800-number on the back of the package.
And, yes, I’m sure there are many very attractive sales people in tech companies who do know what they’re doing.  I haven’t met any in the past eight or nine years, but I am sure they’re out there.  Somewhere.

So, really, is that too much to ask?
I just want competent technical sales people who can answer my questions about their product, don’t waste my time and know that, well, “No, means NO”.  Okay?  Everybody on board for that?

(This rant was brought to you by a high-pressure copier toner sales “person” and the most helpless software sales “person” I’ve ever had to circumvent.  All in the same week.)

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
Just because something is simple doesn't mean it's easy.

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