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December 17, 2008

When the salesperson goes over your head, what hurts besides your ego?

So I read with a smile today AndyIT Guy's two posts (here and here) on a particular salesperson pissing him off because he went "over Andy's head" to his CIO. The first post was short and to the point.  Andy told the guy he was not ready to buy until after the first of the year and he should talk to ANDY then.  Well the nerve of this sales person! He went over Andy's head to the CIO and tried to get the deal done now.  Andy had a bit of a hissy fit and blogged that if the salesperson was reading this, they could forget about ever selling anything to Andy.  Basically they were all washed up in this town.

At this point I was going to write and take Andy to task about the juvenile attitude displayed there. After all what harm did it do to Andy to have the salesperson call the CIO.  I really think it is more about Andy's ego than any real threat.  But I like Andy and since he has a quote from a StillSecure T-shirt on his front page (I like you, I just don't trust you), I was going to let it go.

Then based on a comment from Sam Van Ryder, Andy went on a further tirade about this salesperson and what they did. OK, now I have to step in.  Sam is right, how many times has a salesperson heard, call me after the holidays or next quarter or whatever, without any intent of the person to actually talk to the sales person.  But also who dropped dead and made Andy the single point of contact?  Is Andy not only making the technical decisions but the business and financial ones as well?  Is Andy the person signing the checks?

Here is what I have preached to sales people for years.  It is imperative that they multi-thread into an account. Knowing the Andy's of the world is not enough to get the deal done. A good sales person should have relationships with people up and down the organization, including the ability to pick up the phone and speak to the CIO (especially if it is not some Fortune 100 type company).  Does Andy really relish his role as the gatekeeper?  Is it an ego thing?  OK, in this case it appears the salesperson puffed what she told the CIO, but assume she hadn't, does Andy say no one can call the CIO without his permission?  Come on big fella give us a break.  Will you be collecting tolls to get through next?

Folks lets be real here for a moment. It is tough economic times.  Sales people live in a quarter by quarter world.  If this sales person doesn't get this deal done this quarter, they may not be there next quarter to sell it to you.  What harm really is done by calling the CIO?  Does the CIO come to Andy and say "Andy, you let one through and wasted my time"?  This salesperson was doing her job.  She was not getting anywhere with Andy to her satisfaction and was multi-threading into the account.  She could have been more up front with Andy about it, but my feeling is that anytime a security admin or manager "forbids" you from talking to other people in the organization they are overstepping their bounds and sending a message that this is not yet at the level of a real opportunity. 

If the case is that you are not interested in what a salesperson is hawking, just tell them.  I do it all the time.  Just as they are taught to multi-thread, they are taught to get to no as fast as possible, if no is the answer.  In the meantime don't crucify them for doing that which they are supposed to do.  Also, don't be so personally invested in your gatekeeper role and think that by going over your head it is now personal.

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