Overly relying on sales people?

During IT sourcing process, I believe most of the project and sourcing managers of the client organizations overly rely on the sales person of service provider, on matters they have no expertise. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t have any personal grudge against the sales guys. Far from it. I do respect their skills, experience, shrewdness and the catalystic influence they bring to the sale process. I even covertly admired some of the sales guys trendy fine wool suits, dazzling neck-ties, flashy PDA’s and flamboyancy.  

However, in many instances the sales people over-reach themselves in the guise of being proactive, play superman and make commitments in the areas they have little idea – all in the interest of pleasing the customer and  making a quick sale. For e.g. in few instances I have watched with disbelief and discomfort, when the sales guy was making promises on technical and delivery related matters without really connecting to the technical team on the ground.

As a sourcing organization, it is advisable to deal with the technical team directly on delivery related matters – including the solution, technology, design, resources and schedule. Remember you are hiring the service provider for their skills and expertise. Within the vendor organization, the respective delivery team has the required expertise and they are the ones that would eventually deliver the solution to you.  Delivery teams are engineering minded, detail-oriented and would not shoot ideas from their hips.  They are thin-skinned breeds with little ability to sweet-talk. Since the delivery team skin is in the game, they would usually strive to make pragmatic commitments after careful consideration of  requirements, constraints, past experience and risks.

As I said earlier, I do believe the sales people bring good value to the table during the sales process. No second opinion on that. Leverage them where they matter – primarily for relationship management, price related discussions, contract finalization and connecting to the right people within the service provider organization. I have no issues with relationship building courtships like fine cuisine lunch on meetings, Wimbledon’s, Grand Prix’s and luxury yacht outings either. But, be conscious when to politely nudge them away as well.

You may wonder this sounds like a plain common sense approach? Trust me, this common sense approach is not that common.

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1 Response to “Overly relying on sales people?”


  1. 1 Pandu October 6, 2009 at 4:08 am

    You articulated a good day-to-day issue which can happen anywhere.

    I believe this conflict, between Sales and Project Delivery teams, is possible in any Project based delivery companies. By Project delivery, I include even construction/infrastructure industries.
    — Sales team have their targets and incentives. Bringing more sales revenue (i.e. padding revenue in quick time) despite delivery team’s reluctance in being able to commit quality within the timeframe

    The above scenario can happen due to many reasons:
    — In these Quarter-to-Quarter performance driven markets, Sales organization is given more importance & visibility over delivery team in a matrix structure within a company
    — Top management directive to Sales organization and consequently their support to book revenue at all costs
    — Client specific scenario wherein Sales/Relationship teams have built a long-term relationship both within the client and delivery organization
    — Person specific. That particular Sales executive Greed
    — Apathy among the delivery team/in-charge for their own

    How to overcome these? My 2 cents.
    — Any delivery commitment should be signed-off by both Sales & Delivery teams, if Sales team is asked to do it
    — Conflicts should be immediately dealt with by both Sales & Delivery teams internally
    — Sales team signs off after an PO; Delivery teams take over with only delivery milestones being monitored by Sales team. Sales team do need get involved for customer escalations
    — Above all, a good understanding of each other’s i.e. Sales/Delivery responsibilities/constraints can also work on an individual basis
    — Yearly revenue targets can be signed off by both Sales and Delivery teams for an “existing” relationship.

    -Pandu


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© Dhandapani Ammasai, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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