Its never going to be an easy working relationship is it?! There are after all two very distinct camps at work here. Techies often see their role as more viable, genuine and professional. They focus on ‘what will work’, what won’t work’, and a black and white or truth versus fiction argument. To them the salesman has much lower morals, will bend the truth to get a sale, is happy to inhabit in a more ambiguous world, and for sure will treat them as a resource, not a colleague or a human being. In short most techies don’t understand the sales process, actually fear it, and most salespeople don’t know anything about what is actually on the CD or media that they might ship to the customer.
But techies have egos too. Interestingly, to a man and woman they fail to notice this in themselves and they will often stubbornly compete amongst each other for the status of technical prowess and the recognition thereof. I find the relationship works best when you do approach techies as the colleagues and individuals they are by taking time to get to know them as people. Yes they are a resource to help make the sale but so is everyone and at times Mr Propeller head is asked to do a great deal of work for you and the company so its best to do what you can to increase the effectiveness of communication because that’s what will help you win the business. As a techie before getting into sales I have always felt I understand both groups a little better than most. How smug am I?!
The brash ego fuelled sales type will often say in a measured but aggressive tone; “there is nothing I hate more than ‘techie turned salesman’”! I had been on the receiving end of such a comment myself at least once. The individual who delivered this I realized much later was actually saying that he felt exposed when having to talk about technology or the technical merits of what he was selling. He therefore hated himself for not having the grey matter to understand what techies talk about. ‘Techies” are way down beneath him. He knows that because they really do know how to use a keyboard and get the laptop to project onto the whiteboard. Techies in a sales department also get paid less than Mr Numero Uno Loudmouth Account Manager. Many salespeople make themselves feel good in the self knowledge that their industry is about business benefit and in their own nicotine stained, vodka shrunk brain this requires much greater and more highly prized cerebral wiring than could ever be realized by your average techie.
There is also the small matter of commission! If a whole of group of techies end up in a non air conditioned basement under Broadgate for three and a half weeks in July, trying to make it work, and by some miracle a deal gets closed before the end of the quarter, who gets the commission? That’s correct the Account Manager, the Sales Manager, the Sales Director, the Country Manager and the WW VP of sales. The techies, if they play their cards right might get to go on the club trip to the Bahamas next January. But believe me I am not taking sides.