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How to get taken seriously in a suite?

A couple of my collegues and I have been developing an application in our spare time that we are delivering to our clients.  We know we can make some extra money, but I'm starting to see more potential then just a quick hack and grab (we're selling the liscense to our software, not the ownership rights).  I have a fair number of business contacts who could probably make money quite a bit of money with our product, and in turn making us money, but I'm not quite sure how to get taken seriously as anything but a glorifiend software engineer. 
    Sure, I could put on a suite, dress to impress, talk to latest biz lingo,  but is it hopeless?  Do I need to recruit some brain-dead sales guru to stand there comatose "endorsing" our product?  If anyone has experience with this type of situation, or any ideas on it thoughts and comments always appreciated.

vince
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Well, honestly, if you think that selling is like that, then I think you're going to have a hard time.

I think also your characterization as sales guys as "brain dead" also doesn't help.  Yes, there are brain dead sales guys, but there are also good sales guys.

If you have no money to hire a good sales guy, and you want to sell your product, then you're going to have to get a suit (or whatever attire suits your locale), and get out there and sell.  It can be fun.  Get some books on selling.  Learn how to work the client.  Learn to read the signals he's putting off.  Get a book on sales.

But whatever you do, drop the "I'm too skilled for sales" attitude.  If you're starting out and have no one but yourself and your partner, you'll have to do sales, marketing, support, bookeeping, the whole shebang. 

Alex
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Dress For Success - by John T. Malloy. And maybe some lessons in presentation.

www.marktaw.com
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"I'm not quite sure how to get taken seriously as anything but a glorifiend software engineer. "


Why would you not want to be taken as a software engineer? If what you sell is software, that should bring the custome confidence in that you are able to deliver what you promise, no?

Mattias Thorslund
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Read this:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446673463/qid=1059532863/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/002-7730194-9404009

You might notice that the suit is not the most important thing in selling. Of course, it has it's own role.

Alexander Chalucov (www.alexlechuck.com)
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

If you would hire a sales guy to code your product, then fine, sell the product yourself. Otherwise, hire someone who knows how to sell !

Dont forget, its all about positioning and building your products as a brand in the mind of your customers.

James Ladd
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

What sort of suite are you going to wear, a lounge suite, a hotel suite, or an outdoor tables and chairs?

Realist
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

...I suggest a sofa, if you want to be taken extremely seriously.

Realist
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I can suggest one thing -- if you write sales brochures, hire a copy editor.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

It sounds like you don't where to start. It might be useful to hire someone who can do it for you, or give them a cut of the revenue.

Sales in this situation is not about wearing suits and being full or rubbish; it's about working out how your product is useful and communicating that to people who need it. Your ideal guy would probably be some sort of one-time developer who does a bit of marketing.

.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

A 3 piece suite? Complete with comfy armchair?


Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Hi Vince,

You might try adopting the Perforce attitude to sales. Rather than use a sales force that tries to force a fit between the customer and the product, Perforce (an SCM vendor) offer completely technical support to *all* their users, including those who've just downloaded a free trial version of their product.

Perforce uses this direct connection with their customers to build rapport and trust in their product, talking techie-to-techie. They report that approximately 40% of the people who download their free trial version buy the (quite expensive) product, and all without a single salesperson pestering the customer.

Perforce are helped by a very forceful and directed marketing message. They market their product as the fastest and most scalable SCM solution, and they push this marketing message hard and consistently. You must have a unique selling point (USP) to differentiate yourself and to establish your brand.

HTH,

Mark
--
Author of "Comprehensive VB .NET Debugging"
http://www.apress.com/book/bookDisplay.html?bID=128

Mark Pearce
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

>>Dont forget, its all about positioning and building your products as a brand in the mind of your customers.

Strange, I thought it was all about having a good product (and service) that meets a need now and in the future. Stupid me.

Yanwoo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003


Just don't wear a tie with that 3-piece

http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/news/story/0,12976,1008125,00.html

Pietro
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Particulyrly don't wear a ties if it clashes with the cushion covers. That's a definite no-no.

Have we got enough mileage out of this spelling mistake yet?
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Particulyrly as the mistake was so singulyrly obvious.

Pietro
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

We ned a spill chucker!

Of course, as is always the way, I noticed it as soon as I looked at the post. C'est la vie.


Wednesday, July 30, 2003

If we hud a spull chucker, Nyu Zullunders and Sef Africans woudn't be able to post here.

Thinking
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

"Do I need to recruit some brain-dead sales guru to stand there comatose "endorsing" our product? "


Clearly you aren't even a glorified software engineer, if that comment is any indication of your level of business sense.


Wednesday, July 30, 2003


Stop the harshness, please, this place is looking too much like slashdot.

In reply to the main topic, yes, you should hire a sales manager. Sales and marketing are very difficult areas, against the popular belief.

To the person who posted "Strange, I thought it was all about having a good product (and service) that meets a need now and in the future," just one thing: you can sell the Brooklyn bridge if you market it well.

Leonardo Herrera
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Just be sure to tell the guy at the store that you want a suit, not a suite. Wearing an office to the sales meeting would complicate things.

Nimoy's Bilbo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I agree with some of the comments here, and while some of them are harsh, there is a grain of truth in them.  I have unfortunately learnt some of this the hard way and as a result have previously worked my ass off and achieved absolutely nothing in return apart from a huge list of 'lessons learnt'.

You can have a great product that meets a need that is present now.

What you also need is a knowledge of who does need it now.  You also need a route into those people; a relationship.  You need knowledge of where they sit in the food chain.  You need to know whether they can make the decisions that will lead to a sale, or if not, where they can apply influence.  You need to know what sort of a climate there is there - are the people risk takers?  Can they take a punt on a product in its infancy?  What size are they?  If you are two or three people and they are a big enterprise, they shouldn't be doing business with you anyway.  And they could sink you if you find you have to rely on them for revenue.

If you *know*, and you do genuinely *know* through speaking to many people that your product will save money/reduce problems or pain, then how about approaching those same people to see whether they'd be willing to use and test your software for nothing?  You can then build a case-study for your company.  These people can then feed back how your product could be improved, what annoys them, what you've done right, etc.  And when you reach that sales presentation when money is on the line and they say 'Who is using this now?  Where is this proven?', you can point to a case study and be happy to arrange for your testers to meet up with them and explain how great your product is.

Konrad
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Ah I see you've got clients anyway, sorry, I should read more before I go off on a big pompous spiel.  However I'd still say the rest of what I said applies in terms of what you've got to know about how to make sales.  Whether you wear a suit or not seems a secondary concern.

Konrad
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

You're not going anywhere if that's your attitude towards sales. Good sales can overcome a lousy product but a good product cannot overcome lousy sales.

pb
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Don't think about selling.  Think about two things:

1. Making the customer happy.
2. Collecting the check.

To do #1, you need to understand what the customer wants and needs, both superficially and deeply.  That is, you need to know not only what they think they want, but what would actually make their life better.

To do #2, you need to have the self-esteem to expect fair compensation for your work, make your expectations clear in advance, and hold the customer to their agreements.

Neither of these things is necessarily related to what clothing you wear, so long as the clothing you wear doesn't get in the way of conveying your credibility. 

Also note that neither of these things has anything to do with software or computers; in fact, generally speaking, businesspeople equate technical expertise with inattention to business matters, so try *not* to talk about technology, except *maybe* in the context of the business problem you're solving for the customer.  See item #1.

By the way, note that #2 is actually *more important* than #1, but you have to *do* #1 first.  Not every customer can be made happy, but generally speaking you must at least make the attempt, before you can collect your pay.  :)

Phillip J. Eby
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

haha, the 2 things i've never been able to spell are tomarrow and suit/suite.  Oops, guess I deserve the crap I got. :-) 
I think my comment on hiring a "brain dead sales guy" was not taken the way It was intended.  I've seen some brilliant sales guys, and I know that its not an easy job.  I just meant, do I need the "endorsement" of a sales professional, even though my software is done, and would fit the needs of their customers nicely.  I guess I was just worried that no one would take a bunch of engineers seriously if they were asking for big bucks.  Thanks for all the suggestions. evne though i don't think i'll ever switch to a carreer in sales, i'll definatly pick up a good book on the topic. 

vince
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

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