In Praise Of IT Sales Reps

July 31, 2013


In Praise Of IT Sales Reps – Chuck’s Blog

Sales_proThey go by many names: account manager, sales representative, etc.

In our world of enterprise IT, they’re an essential part of the chain that delivers value from producers to consumers.

But they get tend to get scant respect from our community. We all know stories about what bad sales types have done, but we rarely hear the stories about what the good ones do — day in and day out.

I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with hundreds of top-notch sales professionals during my career here at EMC.

I know what they do, and why it’s important to both vendor and customer. It’s a unique skill set. I don’t think I could do it.

And in a world where enterprise IT is learning to sell itself internally, day-in and day-out — maybe progessive IT leaders should learn what good reps do, and how to apply it in their own IT organizations.

The Stereotype Is Not Flattering

Buy_it_maybeI think many IT types have a poor image of IT sales folks in general: quota-obsessed, not technically deep, poorly informed, fast-and-loose with the truth, poor follow up, political, limited add value, etc.

The good ones I know aren’t like that at all — they’re smart and savvy professionals who are adept at that incredibly difficult act of bridging what a customer needs with what their company can provide.

Coming from a technical background, I used to think that products (and companies) essentially sold themselves: here is our new product, here is how it compares to others, here is where it’s obviously better, here is where you sign.

Complicated-whiteboardHow naive I was.

It got worse. In my product marketing roles, I thought all I had to do was arm the reps with a mountain of technical information and comparisons, and they’d be good to go. How little I really understood. Early on, when I got in front of customers, I thought that all they wanted to discuss was the technology — ours, to be specific — and nothing else.

What a dummy I was.

Let Me Paint You A Picture

Let’s take EMC as a typical example.

How-to-chooseWe’ve got many hundreds of sophisticated technology products — all in a continual state of flux. Add to that a portfolio of literally hundreds of integrated solutions and reference architectures — also in a state of flux.

And then there’s a vast portfolio of services: implementation, consulting, support, etc. We’ve got an ecosystem of many hundreds of very cool partners, all with their own flavors of secret sauce that we can help bring to the table.

There’s more: our company collectively has access to a ton of real-world experiences in every size, shape and geography. No matter what a customer is trying to get done, there’s an outstanding chance that EMC has done something similar before, and can make it relevant in the current context.

They key point of engagement with all of this potential value is the account manager

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