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Avoiding IT Salespeople

Is this how you look to your customer?

Is this how your customer sees you?

Paul Lanigan is the Sandler franchisee for Ireland.  I’ve been reading his newsletter for a while.

Paul posted a recent comment about an article published by ZDNet UK entitled, Top 10 reasons to avoid IT salespeople. Whether you work for a tech company or not, you need to read this article.

It’s not often we get such uncensored feedback from our customers.  I didn’t take this lightly.  I hope you don’t either. 

Here are excerpts from each of Sally Whittle’s ten reasons. 

  1. Faux friendliness — “IT salespeople always act as though they’re my long-lost buddy. I get all these messages asking how I am, saying we really need to ‘touch base’ because it’s ‘been too long’,” Lowman said. “And, most of the time, I have no idea who they are.”

  2. Stalking — “They are trained in how to overcome almost any variation of ‘no, thanks’ or ‘I’m not interested.”

  3. Getting the basics wrong — “The reality is that most salespeople don’t listen to clients. They only want to know what the budget is, then they’ll tell you they are the market leader and their solution is fully customisable to meet your needs — whatever that means.”

  4. Mindless optimism — Sometimes, salespeople simply lose all perspective on what they are selling, added Peter Dunkley, a director at depo consulting: “No matter how you look at it, you cannot differentiate yourself from the competition in any meaningful way by buying a new router.”

  5. Somehow they skipped #5 in the article

  6. Bad science — “Any statement that includes the phrase ‘return on investment’ should be met with extreme caution,” said Dunkley. “My personal theory is that the salesman overheard the phrase being used by accountants and thought it sounded impressive. But they rarely understand exactly what they’re talking about.”

  7. Discounts — It’s possible to use the sales cycle to your advantage, said Hooper. “You have much more leverage at the end of a sales cycle, so keep your cool and don’t commit to final numbers until the last minute,” he advised. “Salesmen will give you extra value-adds or come down on price as the pressure is on for them to meet targets. You just need to keep your nerve.”

  8. The “upgrade path” — What’s more, if you’re looking at future functionality, that really means the product doesn’t currently do what you need it to, Dunkley added. “This gap is so significant, the salesman is making a huge gamble that you’re not going to wait until the functionality is delivered — not a good sign.”

  9. No credibility — Remember that a customer reference is no substitute for a site visit — without the salesperson in attendance. Try to find a company in a similar industry or at least of similar size, said Dunkley, and ask questions.

  10. The lingo — The best way to avoid being flannelled by an over-enthusiastic salesman is to have a clear objective for any meeting, suggested Hooper. “Salesmen will want to show you pretty PowerPoint, but you should outline objectives and agree the agenda by email in advance,” he said.

  11. Finally, just like with salespeople, there’s always one more thing — A software licence audit specialist frequently disguises their attempt to sell as a desire to “help” your company, said Roberts. “They’ve been known to use scare tactics and to point to a range of large fines that can result from non-compliance with licence terms. Quite often, they show up around the time of mergers and acquisitions or other major corporate upheaval, when they suspect rich pickings can be found.”

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