A response to Alan on those “lying no-goodnick” vendors
…the marketing departments of companies typically make it sound like their product can cure world hunger and make you a sandwich at the same time it is keeping your network totally secure (and it does all that in a nice little 1U appliance that takes five minutes to install and configure).
Or maybe this:
So as the sales person and sales engineer (often the same person), it is imperative that the expectations for a product are managed up front. If the customer calls you in and says that the brochure for XYZ Security Widget says that it can perform a certain function, you have to be able to explain if the claim is true or not. You have to make it clear that often case studies are done in pristine situations. And you also have to clarify that the “setup” of the widget (yes, the one that takes only five minutes) in a network often means that it was simply screwed into a rack, plugged into the network, and assigned an IP address. There is usually little to no configuration done on the widget, and it is absolutely worthless in this state. You have to enlighten the naïve customer by telling him that trade rag product reviews are often rigged (it sucks, but it is true).
I was going to respond in the comments, but it got long, so I thought it was worth a post. OK, here goes.
To answer your “what would I do working for a vendor” question, I would honestly have to look long and hard at a vendor before I would go to work there. Not because they are all a bunch of ” lying no-goodnicks”, but because of the situations I would be in that would require me to sell a product that was not a good fit. I have interviewed a few times with vendors. One interview stands out because they asked me what I would say to a client if our product was not a good fit. I said that I would tell the client it was not a good fit, and the interviewer’s jaw almost hit the floor. He couldn’t believe I would say that. But how could I not and stay true to my morals?
I know I give vendors a bad rap, but I have a good bit of experience with them on the customer side and reselling side (this is not my first go ’round as a reseller). And many, if not most, push their product on everyone, no matter if it is a fit or not. And then they get aggravated at me for telling the customer the real deal. Since more often than not Accuvant is the trusted adviser at clients, I am not going to listen to grief from the vendor when I step in as a reseller and try to protect my customer. I just can’t afford to let a client buy something that is not a good fit. If I do that a couple of times, I am no longer a trusted adviser.
As an example, I spent 30 minutes on the phone with a vendor sales guy a couple of weeks ago on this very thing. He was griping at me because I was bringing in a competitor of his into an account he thought he had brought me in on. The reason I was bringing someone else in was because my client has an internal policy that they have to bring in at least three vendors of any one product before they can make a purchase. I explained that I could not refuse the customer, especially if he was specifically requesting that I do all the work. Again, if I don’t help my client, then my status as a trusted adviser gets hurt or lost.
But what really got my dander up was that I knew that the guy had not brought me in to the client. In fact, the client requested Accuvant (the client and I were old friends – we had worked at another reseller together). And in the course of the conversation with me, the sales guy got so flustered that he actually admitted that he had suggested another reseller first (a big mistake on his part that essentially killed his argument, no matter what my argument had been). This was just pure and simple dishonesty, and it irked me tremendously.
I am not saying that all vendors are dishonest. And I know that vendor product sales make up a huge amount of our revenue at Accuvant. But I would rather not be put in a situation where I have to choose between making my boss angry by not selling the product or convincing the customer that the product is what he needs when I know it is not. I just don’t know if I can work in the situation.
Having said all of that, I would really love to hear your deeper opinion on this matter. Obviously you have had a lot of experience working for vendors, and I want to hear your side on this and how you handle this kind of thing, what you teach your sales people, etc. I have heard that the vendor side of the house is great, so I want to know what the argument from your side is so I can keep from limiting my options for future employment.