It’s common among certain companies for their sales people and engineers to talk about ‘winning’ or ‘beating’ their competition, or ‘slamming’ their counterparts. I want to take a minute to point out how puerile this is, and how offensive it is to be a customer to this type of military thinking.
I have an admission to make. I have been a salesman twice in my career. Full time, honest to goodness, close the deal, ‘get the purchase order’ sales guy. And yes, I was OK but wasn’t particularly good at it because I got bored.
I have the following takeaways from the experience:
- the job is very repetitive. No really, like manufacturing line repetition of the same questions and issues.
- you get to meet a lot of people you probably don’t like much.
- you have to put up with a lot of people who probably don’t like you much either.
- you get told no quite often. This is demotivating.
- When you finally get a yes, it’s quite exciting.
- most sales people aren’t very clever or bright (warning: gross over-generalisation). If they are they either, they quickly move to management or anywhere else.
But the biggest thing is motivation. I enjoyed my time as a sales guy, I just got bored by the repetition and putting up with my fellow sales people and moved back to engineering.
Motivational Trash Talk
To compensate for the nature of the job role, a lot, and I mean a lot, of sales people compensate by using trash talk. They turn the process into some kind of game:
- We’ve got to beat the competition
- Get out their and play your best game
- You have to believe your going to win
- we have the best product / services / engineers / shoes / business cards / company / etc
and so on. Strangely, I understand this. It’s like being back at school and the coach telling you that you can do this.
No matter how hard I try, it just sounds childish. Here what I’m thinking:
- I’m sitting across the table from someone who I’m about to partner my business with.
- I’m linking my career with their company.
- Is this person capable of handling the money I’m about to give them ?
And knowing, just knowing, that these people talk and think like teenagers on a college sports program puts me right off. The very idea that someone can be so emotionally undeveloped that they revert to school playground mentality to get their job done ? That creeps me out.
Partnership is more than just a word, or a fancy concept. It’s a genuine attempt to capture the heart of the business relationship between vendors / resellers & customers. Partnership doesn’t allow for ‘winning’, ‘beating’, ‘defeating’, ‘crunching’ or all the other masturbatory terms that are used by Sales Managers and Motivators all over the world. Partnership doesn’t really cover the spectrum of the engagement, but it’s a good enough term.
Partnership doesn’t encompass the idea of ‘fighting’ or ‘war’. It’s only has time for softer emotional concepts such as ‘support’, ‘mutuality’, ‘sharing’, ‘exchange’, ‘caring’. Business is not combative, it’s engagement.
The EtherealMind View
So if you turn up with a combative, kill’em, win at all costs attitude then here is what you are saying:
- it’s not about partnership, it’s about winning
- it’s about ‘beating’ me, not about helping me
- it’s about ‘stealing’ from competitors
- it’s about being a small minded prick with the mental age of a high school student
Vendors and resellers of IT infrastructure companies need to learn to the difference between motivating a football team and motivating professional business relationships. If you want to sell newspapers on the street, then you’ve got the right attitude but if you plan to sell me newspapers every day, it’s the wrong attitude.
I’m tired of dealing with emotionally retarded sales people who represent big companies and I want something better.