It is usually hard to find sales or financial insight on tech sites. Most of us know or feel how a sale is made but have never done in practice. All we see are people in suits who know nothing about a product but still make people comfortable in buying the products.
@wilber_xbox It's really too bad that there isn't more information presented in tech venues about other non-engineerig disciplines. "Suits" is often used as a derrogatory name for managers, sales, and marketing. But there's a real reason for sales professionals to wear suits: it's a sign of respect for the customer - both engineers AND management.
I suppose that the principles that are listed in this week's blog are "ethical manipulation." But unethical manipulation is entirely possible and are the subject of an upcoming blog.
"there's a real reason for sales professionals to wear suits"
Have you been to an electronics trade show lately? Most of the people in a booth wear polo shirts with the company logo. If you wear a tie, people think of you in the same light as a used car salesman and they don't trust you as much.
"If you wear a tie, people think of you in the same light as a used car salesman and they don't trust you as much."
I think it depends on the circumstances and the issue is more a question of overdressing for the situation. But as a general rule, a guy in a suit & tie doesn't come across as a guy who will join you at the lab bench to help debug a problem you're having with one of his products. You tend to think of him more as the guy who will be in a conference room with your managers, doing the Powerpoint dog & pony show. Not that you don't trust a guy in a suit & tie, but when you're under pressure to solve that problem in the lab, you're looking for suit guy's co-worker who's wearing the polo shirt.
BUT, when I have an engineering problem, I don't ask a sales person to help me solve it (unless I know them personalloy and know their skills). I call on the Field Apps Engineer or the factory apps team.
Skills are definitely different for apps engineering and sales. When I want to talk first level product details I count on the sales person to give me the overview. When I have a bench problem I really want an apps engineer to come help.
@MeasurementBlues You're right that the electronics trade show uniform is pretty universally slacks and a polo shirt. And many trade show booths are staffed by factory applications and engineering folks. But a central reason for the trade show uniform can be found in the graphics design of the booth - and a corporate identity. Years ago the issue of booth attire was pretty significant - the polo or botton down shirt hadn't yet become accepted. The maneuvering for styles and color was "awesome" to watch.
Most sales folks that I see every week wear a suit - perhaps without a tie in many circumstances. There also tends to be regional differences in business attire. But, the smart sales person carries a tie (if a male) and knows their audience.
Not just electronic trade shows, but most conventions as well. For instance, IETF meetings. Times they are a-changin'. And it's not entirely surprising, is it? After all, the suit and tie that we know today also didn't exist forever. According to Wikipedia, its origins are the early 20th Century. Relatively recently, and high time for another change. Or we'd still be wearing those complicated get-ups of the 18th Century. Imagine that!
But my main point I wanted to make is that not all EEs work on programs for the public, so the sales aspect of our jobs can be far less clear-cut. In a very real sense, I've been in sales from the start of my career, mainly because my brand of EE interfaces directly with the customer. In order to keep our programs alive, we need to do right by our customers, who in turn need to show their bosses that their programs are runs like proverbial "well-oiled machines."
Anyway, my company changed the dress code some years ago, and by and large, so did our customers. Even if they wear a tie, which is increasingly rare, the jacket comes off as soon as they get into the office (or conference room).
I don't spend much tiome om benches often, but I have spent a lot of time on the bench in the last three monthgs. I no longer wear a tie unless I'mm meetiong with corporate execs (or the company carries on with ties for most employees). But, I do remove my sports coat when I get into a lab situation. It makes me and my clients more comfortable.
In our profession, the sales people are often engineers too, and the best ones know their products very well. Don't forget, without them, managers, design engineers, test engineers, applications engineers and everyone in manufacturing would cease to be neccessary.
As @AZ ponts out, people sessing electronic components and equipment ot enginers do know more about the products they sell that many others. Yes, that's because many of them started out as engineers. I know a number or college classmate who all have engineering dregrees and went into selling electronics pars and equipment.
AZ, i think every department has its own value. In tech, engineers are more valueable because without them there is no innovation. It is also true that most of the sales people start as engineers but later switch due to various reasons.
Henry, many others who are not sale people are now judged by the numbers. We editors are certainly in that box. As I'm sure you know, web sites generate a mountain of statistics that are often pointed back to editors. When I started in this business, my outlet was all print and there wre virtualy no stats to judge the effectivemenss of an article. Today, we have stats on everything.
@MeasurementBlues you're right on the money when it comes to all categories of professionals and measurement numbers!
Thirty years ago we had only secondary measures of cause qnd effect. Now we can get a lot closer to a causal relationship. It still isn't easy - designing meaningful measures isn't always getting the data that's needed.
I'm a bit conflicted on the topic of instant measures. I like the reality of reducing the feedback cycle, but I've seen too many "suits" misunderstanding data and drawing the wrong conclusions. It CAN get better, but it takes sophistication on the part of management.
"At first glance it would seem that the primary goal is to get money for something. However, in the larger picture of maximizing the lifetime value of customers, there must always be multiple simultaneous goals..."
I agree with what you have said. Surely it is very important to retain the existing/long-term customers, but I have seen the people in sales getting haunted by the fear of not meeting their sales targets, which repeats every month or quarter. This fear acts like a distractor...how to cope up with that?
@Sanjib.A sales quotas are an intersting issue. Most companies set quotas early in the year with a mix of existing business and new business. Sales people who are well conneted with their existing cusomters are seldom surprised in the short term - b ut surprises happen to everyone at some time. Experienced sales people usually have a longer term view into cusotmer needs and can often adjust their selling process to encourage cusomters to move in purchases (or out) as their respective needs demand.
I don't like cold calling: it's terribly expensive approach to finding new prospects and even worse at allowing you to forecast the new customers' demand.
I may be overly harsh, but it's marketing's job to build a qualification process to feed sales people well qualified leads. So, I believe in a marketing process that results in more leads than is required based on predictive lead analysis. With a well understood lead management process, sales leads should be a near-constant flow out to sales.
Ultimately, sales quotas are something to be managed by experienced sales maangers who have the skills to know when a issue is really an issue and when it's an excuse.