Most of us at some time have taken the journey of buying a car. Quite a few of us had the misfortune of either paying too much or buying a less than wonderful car. It’s obvious that something is wrong after the transaction is complete. It might take a few weeks or months, but the result is the same.
Being human, we want someone to blame. Usually this means the dealer that sold us the car. Sometimes it is the manufacturer. Sometimes it is correct to blame these people and other times it is exactly the wrong thing to do.
The point of this blog is to briefly explore the deception that takes place within the computer business. Given the model of the car business, how does the computer business fair? Similar to the car business, you have manufacturers of software and hardware. Also similar to the car business you have dealers (resellers).
The sales people in the computer business have one primary goal (like any other business) to sell as much as possible to earn as much commission as possible. The sales person might or might not understand the technology they are selling. The point is that their sales ability does not mean that they able to accurately portray the product they sell.
I, having worked for two resellers during 1997-1999, understand the darker side of the sales cycle. If a sales person becomes desperate enough, they will actually start to promise things that the product cannot do. For example, in 1997, a sales person had told a potential customer that we (the reseller) would be able to get AutoCAD working on WinFrame. The sales person had never conferred with us about this and by the time we heard about this, it was already too late. The customer expected that feature to work without a hitch.
In case you haven’t heard, Presentation Server (by itself) cannot support 3D drawing programs remotely. It is now 10 years later and the only hope of success is with the Pictor project. Obviously, there is little chance that a reseller would have been able to pull this off in 1997.
This did not stop however. The same sales person went ahead and had told other customers that we could do it. The basic problem was that it was impossible.
That was my biggest complaint from that time. The sales people were always promising more than we could ever deliver. The result was a customer that would never be satisfied since the expectations were so high.
So, this is where the deception is so obvious. If a customer is told something that simply is not true either based on ignorance or even worse purposeful lying, the reseller will lose the business eventually. From the sales person point of view (of that time), it simply did not matter. The sales person had no consequence from this deception and might potentially benefit from it from a quick commission.
I’m not saying all sales people are like this. I’m just saying that we really could do with a lot less of these kind of false statements. Personally, I discovered working as a systems engineer for a reseller endlessly frustrating. On one side I had sales people that didn’t seem to care about the limits of the system. On the other side, I couldn’t fix issues that were directly affecting my customers. Unfortunately, the customers became disenchanted if their expectations had been set way too high in the beginning.
I was fascinated that this kind of behaviour was not punished. I also found it amazing that it was actually encouraged by the way the commissions were set up. I would tend to think that this is more a reflection of short term gain myopic view.
Lasting long term relationships are shunned for the quick dollar. Never mind that you would make more money through trust and honor, it is the trickster that is encouraged to sell his wares to the general populace.
So, as I end my memory of past experience, let me state some simple facts.
See your customer as you would see yourself. If you respect yourself, you should respect them as well. They don’t like being mislead as you do not either. Know what you are selling and find a way to present this in a fair way. Do not, by any means, oversell your products and make up stories about what it can do. Bad karma awaits you if you do. Believe me, this karma can remember for a very long time. Be good to your customers and they will be good to you.
The best part is that if you know your products, the more chance people will come to you and respect you and even give you their money!