back to article Death of a Salesman: Enough with the marketing already

Reflecting recently on the changes that I have seen in the enterprise IT market, more specifically the enterprise storage market, I have come to the conclusion that over the past five years or so, the changes have not been technological but rather having to do with everything around the technology and its packaging. There …

Salespeople often too young and inexperienced

I'm seeing more and more young people being hired into sales roles, which is great but companies are then not educating them on how to interact with clients well and how to understand client businesses and industries to a decent degree. This then means that customers aren't satisfied with their interactions with salespeople and rely on them less, contributing to the trend towards marketing, which a few people can control and orchestrate centrally. Companies need to really invest in a mix of experienced sales people and younger grads so that there is a real transfer of knowledge and skills, as enterprise hardware sales people are expected to be experts in their products and customer industry, but are often nothing more than tin shifting call centre staff with little investment behind them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Salespeople often too young and inexperienced

I have received many calls from "salespeople" promoting technical products, yet they readily admit they don't have any clue about the technology they are representing. " Sorry, I'm not technical, I'm just calling to see if you have any projects or questions." Yeah, I have a couple questions, " What does it do?" and "How does it work?" If you "sell" and can't answer those basic questions, find another job.

In terms of marketing, I have never seen as many blatant lies in marketing material and from third world promoters that seem to have zero conscience. When you point out their blatant buzzword inaccuracies, they become indignant, like it is their right to lie and our pleasure to endure them. It's like someone wrote a book on how to lie their way into technology. "You too can have the tech job of your dreams, just follow these simple 12 Steps to financial freedom. Step 1: Lie." It is getting worse and I fear what the end game looks like without something in place to stop these people. Seriously, where does it end?

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Re: Salespeople often too young and inexperienced

All these experienced salespeople who knew their stuff, where did they go?

Well, they reached or even exceeded their sales targets and that means they were owed a bonus. That made them to expensive and they were either bullied out or fired.

Because people are a cost and managers cut costs.

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Silver badge

Duh.

Marketards have been cowing clueless Manglement for about two decades.

Neither of the above have any actual clue about technology.

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Anonymous Coward

There are two extreme flavors of IT salesmen

Flavor one: my product is so good that you'll beg us to sell it to you, whatever the price. Your requirements are trivially met as long as you involve someone that really, truly knows our product, which coincidentally is one of our authorized consultants and resellers, whose price tag is proportional to our product's price. Translation: we're big and are in all Fortune 500 places so we don't need to lose much time with you.

Flavor two: my product is fantastic and great, yet no one uses it. So we're willing to give it away practically for free while we listen to your requirements and answer "yes, of course we can" to all of them. Translation: we're using you as a guinea pig and hope to make it up on the long term so we can mutate to the first flavor.

The ideal sales bod is between these two, but sadly lately I don't see many of them.

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I can count on one hand the number of good Sales/SE i've encountered in 20 years, most only give a crap about the commission cheque, then it's support's issue to pick up the pieces. The few good ones get overworked and die. Save the sales Droid/SE, they are an endangered breed.....

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Sales and Marketing

Decades ago, the organization I worked for made a great point about the difference between sales and marketing. Sales, they said, was finding someone to buy what you were selling; marketing was understanding what the customer needed and finding a way to provide it.

To do the first, you have to know the product and be able to explain it in a language the customer understands. To do the second you have to understand your technology and the customers' business.

Both sides have forgotten the caution offered in "The Music Man." In either case, ya gotta know the territory.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't know about sales, but use your presales-guy wisely and you'll have an ally on the inside to speak for you.

Of course it also depends on the company he works for, but for the "marketingly challenged" companies in the storage world, it really is more about the technology and less about the fluff.

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I think its a product of consolidation in the tech industry

Fewer small firms where customer feedback only has to work through 1-2 layers to get to the exec staff of the engineering staff, more big firms that have tremendous scale and can support your office in Outer Slobovia, but its difficult to actually get heard by someone who has the power to change things.

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I think its a product of consolidation in the fashion industry

It is most certainly NOT "product consolidation in the tech industry". That, in itself, is marketing BS. Stop calling all things about data, storage, processing, transfer, security, integration, production... (the list is quite long)... one subject = "technology". It's not that simple simply because you simplify it to approach a consumer relationship. e.g.The difference between data and its processing has been intentionally blurred by marketers who know very little about the significance and/or applicability of either, but are just trying to sell "cool".

The term is being even further "dumbed down" and turned into an all encompassing "buzzword" by being applied to the simple use of a device, proffering "technological savy" or a certain sense of accomplishment, identity or even knowledge with/of things technical. Leveraging a tool displays one thing. Dependence on a tool, well... quite another.

Following trends is all that is left when you lose the difference between the definitions of "functions" and "functionality".

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Silver badge

Re: I think its a product of consolidation in the fashion industry

But I didn't mention product consolidation, did I? I specifically mentioned vendor consolidation with larger firms buying up the small ones and fewer small ones to start with. Not the same thing at all.

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Re: I think its a product of consolidation in the fashion industry

Err what?

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It takes an Old Sheepdog....

to train a young Sheepdog. Trouble is, there's no sheepdog school.

You can specify all the formal education that you want but nothing makes up for actual experience.

Sometimes you get exactly what you didn't pay for. The price of an object or service is not the only important thing to consider.

It is a well known trick of purchasing managers to give a new salesperson an absolutely impossible task, upon which the inexperienced young gung ho salesperson says "Sure, no problem". Anyone with a little salt would say "I'll have to get back to you on that".

It's not what you know, it's how you apply it that counts.

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Functions -vs- Functionality

Point taken, MH. A bit of a knee-jerk reaction, of course.

However, when corporations overshadow smaller companies from either product or personnel perspective, I can't help but anticipating, based on historical precedent, that Fitz-Gibbon's Law is in action.

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Waer bestu bleven?

All these experienced salespeople who knew their stuff, where did they go?

Well, they reached or even exceeded their sales targets and that means they were owed a bonus. That made them to expensive and they were either bullied out or fired.

Because people are a cost and manager cut costs.

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Unhappy

Roll back the clock - not a chance !

It seems to me that companies today are run by accountants rather than sales folks. Only interested in the numbers for each quarter. Let's not sell more but fire a few thousand employess; after all they are only our biggest asset !. MD/CEO leaves after 18 months with a big cash bonus & a knighthood. Moves to another outfit & repeats the one trick pony. Or they go for a big merger eg. Compaq & HP, fire more thousands, walk away with millions & leave a complete shambles behind. Little wonder that Enterprise IT Mgrs are a bunch of hard nosed cynics.

Few companies provide the IT /Salesmanship/Management Training of the '60s/'70s given by Olivetti, IBM, HP, Burroughs, ICL, NCR etc before salesmen were let anywhere near a customer.

Happy days consigned to the history bin. But, hey, that's progress............

As an aside, Apple's Watch is a classic pre-announcement to buy time & stop punters parting with hard earned cash for competitive products. FUD rules ! Works everytime.

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Anonymous Coward

I went to a small product launch today for Hitachi Digital Preservation Platform (HDPP). They let their federal division launch it at that level first. Kind of neat.

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