Monday, October 22, 2007

Again, more reports on shortages in technical sales people

About a year ago, Bob Weinstein had a syndicated column called “Can Techies Sell” and I wrote an entry about it Oct 2 2006. Today, in The Washington Times, Recruitment Times, p. D3, there is a column “Severe Shortage of Technical Salespeople.” Once again, Weinstein poohs the notion that sales people can sell anything, at least in technology.

The great “myth” is that techies are introverted and don’t like to manipulate people as people. In fact, you have to “sell” even to be successful bringing in revenue or just a public reputation with your own content. But, from a psychological point of view, one can understand the resistance to sales culture for its own sake – cold calling, developing and trading leads, schmoozing, manipulating, putting on misleading appearances.

Some people, in fact, get a source of psychological identity in their skills in manipulating others. They may well justify this in terms of their own families, a psychological mechanism that more introverted people could find phony.

A much better fit, as Weinstein says, is the concept of sales engineer – a job oriented around customer service and solving business problems, in support of a marketer who may take more of the responsibility for generating leads through “social” contacts. As Weinstein writes, sometimes such a job does lead to a better understanding of how a business works, and what it takes to support the bottom line.

Even so, many sales jobs that companies offer seek sales experience rather than technical experience, even if the sales experience (including meeting quotas) is in a different area.

A main issue for me is how “public” the job is. If the responsibility is to sell something that I had a hand in developing because I believe in it, there is no problem, even if it means setting aside everything else I do publicly – something I have already discussed on these forums. But I would never want the reputation of a peddler.

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