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Sep 28-Oct 4, 1998

That's Not the Way It Is (Unless You Make It That Way)

jack carrollby Jack Carroll

There have been times in my career in sales when I thought that all the talk about positive mental attitude and "taking good care of the customer" was a lot of smoke—meaningless propaganda perpetuated by an invisible conspiracy of company owners and managers whose mission was duping salespeople into selling bad products to dumb, unsuspecting customers.

If at times you too might have thought that was true, let me tell you conclusively, that's not the way it is. Unless you, and only you, make it that way.

What brings this to mind is an article in the October 98 issue of Wired Magazine, "Someone's got to move units," by Po Bronson. The gist of the article is that "hawkmeister" salespeople are the saviors of many high tech companies because they glibly foist their shoddy software products on stupid customers who don't know any better. Move over Willy Loman and make room for the Silicon Valley Lounge Lizard.

I won't go into the sordid details that take place in this underworld of sleazebag salespeople and the day-to-day wranglings portrayed in this article. The bottom of the barrel is the bottom of the barrel, and every barrel has a bottom. But don't portray that bottom as the entire world.

And don't get your hopes up, either, about making a six figure income by crossing over to the dark side and selling the way these people do. There just aren't enough stupid corporate decision making committees out there (the way that enterprise software is bought) for more than a handful of bottom feeding salespeople.

Sorry about your subterranean world, Wired Magazine. That's not the way it is in mine or that of anyone else I know. Thank God for that.

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Sales Tip and Practice
Before taking a job selling high tech products, check up on the reputation of the company you will be working for. Stay away from big promises from small reputations. If you go to work for the wrong company you will wind up lying to customers or starving—two unattractive alternatives.

To find out what people are saying in Internet newsgroups about companies and products, check out For other ideas, take a look at our links on conducting sales research.

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