Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Agony of Doing Sales

This June I completed my  one year  of working as a salesman for WebPalins Information Systems . strange as it may sound but this year seemed to passed in a blur . as I look back in a reflective mood   and evaluate what I have done in last 12 months I find myself  a bit happy a bit  frustrated and   full of optimism .


 I  accomplish one key goal of my professional life . I wanted to sell software   I wanted to be known as a software sales guy , I wanted to prove to my self that I can pick a unknown brand of software and sell it to a demanding customer segment and looking back I can say that I did a good job of it .By luck ,fluke ,intelligence or sheer dog work   I was able to do some thing on that line some thing which was not spectacular but was better than just surviving at job ( I hope my boss will agree with me )    . I got a proof of concept of my core competencies . Now in the coming year I look forward to capitalizing on this and scale up my volume and numbers .


This year brought  a lot of insight in my professional and personal life , I was always intrigued by the     hostility and suspicions which is associated with the sales profession. No matter what we say about customer service and relation ship management  and all that bullshit .client always seems  to giver more  weight to  a tech guy and consider whatever I said as ,well    sales bullshit . I tried to understand  why it was like that ? why in spite of  best of   the intentions there was a shade of mistrust ?  why a sales guy is considered guilty till he prove his innocence .


Why Sales ? : It's  nobodies  idea of a decent job


One year back when I was looking for a  job change and went  through some interviews .almost always the first question of the interviewer used to be   Why you want to  go for a sales job after doing a bachelors degree in computer Science. ?  Some were amazed ,some were sympathetic, some were suspicious whether I will stay in the sales profile for a long time and whether I will jump to the first chance I will get to join software company as a programmer . somehow I convinced all of them   and almost every body  offered me a job in there firm .


Working  in a small software firm is always hard and more so if you are the sales guy there . you are commented and advised by everybody who will rather like to die than face the customer . you are dammed if you stay in office and dammed if you move out in field .


I used to think why people were so averse to the idea of doing a sales job . was it because of the hard work it demand ,but almost every type of job require to work your ass off . I discussed it with few of my friends . One of them said "well I can never do a sales job because I can't handle rejections and uncertainties which come with it " .



Rejection & Uncertainty  :  so this was the reason, ........well lets   look at it


Well at the first pass it looks like a good reason to stay away from sales. After all who wants to be rejected in life , Be it from Girlfriends or from Customers we hate being rejected . so logic goes that anybody with a respectable and big enough ego can't opt for sales as it demand you to take initiatives and risk the rejection .

Lets take them one by one : Rejection : my take on the fear of rejection is that we all are making our living here and doing the work . We go to our workplace equipped with our knowledge, we have tools ,we have raw inputs and we give some out put. That's the way world works . an accountant goes to world with a knowledge of   taxation and accounting there  he find a table or a ledger with figures he has to tally them. A software engg goes to his workplace with the knowledge of   C,C++ and finds a programmed needs to coded   or debugged ,he writes the code with intention of implementing a particular functionality in software . A sales man goes to work with the knowledge of a person(s) who is his prospect he understand the prospects work , requirements and   knows how he can solve the problem by the product or service he sales .


 Now in a typical workday an accountant might not be able to tally figures in a single table or a programmer might not debug a simple code but that is termed as "Natural" because the subject of there action can not speak out but in case of a Sales Guy making cold call over telephone the subject on the other end is a real living breathing human being and he can shout back if you act stupid   . If for a moment we imagine that we have a C /C++ complier who on every syntax error shout back " You fucking cock sucker !!,Can't you type the damn thing with proper attention? " or Ms-Excel saying " You spineless weasel!! it's the god damn Payroll of your colleague  you are messing up "
If we have these type of tools I think Programming labs and Accounting rooms will have more noise   and less work.


In a typical software firm  programmer tends to think that sales guy is at best is a necessary evil .These species of professional run from the fact that much of the respect which software programmer have commended in India is because of ignorance . people don't know what you are doing , you earn a lot of money and don't come home drunk and beat your wife .   All this automatically elevate them to a higher plane but if programmer stops for a minute a think that does  a word of appreciation from someone who don't understand what you are doing   means anything ?  how long does it give a artificial security to you when deep inside you know everyday you are less productive than your actual potential because of your stupidity .


I know many guys who say "I was debugging all day " and not many who says " I found out 10 bugs and fixed 5 " in the world of programming there   is no objective constant . there is only subjective realities , when they screw up some feature they philosophically declare " Fine ! that's one more and perhaps a better way of   implementing it " . Everything is subjective   to the interpretation of a spineless programmer .


They refuse to face the objective realities of outside world and love to live in there air conditioned cocoons . they can afford to do that because someone else is facing and fighting the world on there behalf and that someone is the sales guy . Even in developed and service centric economies like US producer is still revered as the creator of all the value in world and rest of the people including salesman is just passing the   torch . No wonder  we know Bill Gates , Steve Jobs and N.R.Murthy  and no one (until recently )cared about   Steve Ballmer , Sculley and Phaneesh Murthy . they were and they are merely a bonsai in the shadow of banyan trees .


Is it just a co-incidence or a nexus ? well your guess is as good as mine . and your guess depends whether you are a salesman or a Programmer .

Prashant Singh
Ladies & Gentelman ! Take My Advice
PullDown Your Pants & Slide on ICE


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m said...

Acknolwedged that I have read.
The image of sales guy is his own making. There is a saying that one fish in a pond can make it dirty.But think what happens to the pond if more than 50% fish are bad. This is the image of "sales" people. As an example think about credit-card/banking guys. Almost every body you know has a story where the guy has promised lot of things, but the reslut did'nt matched the promises.
The point you make about ego is well taken.
Finally I think people-to-people contact will decrease logarithmically when you ascend the stairs in your profession. It is similar that a programmer writes less code when he scales up.

One last thing, Try to be "Good" in your profession, not necessarily "Best". ("Best" is typical american-dream, but "good" includes bit of eastern philosophy too)

Anonymous said...

Programmer write less code as he go up in his profession !!

you are saying while working in microsoft ??

i am shocked buddy