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salespeople, good blokes or spawn of the devil?

in previous lives I have been a carpet/vinyl layer and a sawmiller.
While I was working as a carpet layer I was working and living in a town different from that of my partner, we worked in pairs and I was lucky enough to have a like minded chap working with me so we both used to get the weeks schedule and then kill ourselves working 16 hours days during the week to get all the jobs done and ensure that we could have the weekend free.  Allowing me to leave late friday night, travel 6 hours, arrive 4 am saturday morning and spend the weekend with my beloved :)  a perfect plan. (I was young and fit back then)
this worked fine for the first 4 weeks, and then we discovered on thursday that one salesman in particular had 'accidentally' booked in an additional job for saturday morning, we seethed a little but completed it....a thing that was only possible because we had busted our guts all week to get away, if we had not done this then there is no way it would have worked.
The same thing happened the following week, done by a different salesman.
The third week after that we discovered on wednesday that a third salesman had booked us up saturday, realised we were being had and gave up, reverting to the standard days work.
This actually caused problems at first, with 2 different salespeople complaining to our boss about our 'attitude problem'..luckily he understood pretty quick what had happened and gave us his support.
(This all worked out very well for me as he also worked with me to arrange for fridays off every second week, allowing a stress-free trip to see my gf...he said he didn't want me to work myself into the ground. :)

A couple of years later I was working for a sawmill, it had been in operating for 10 years or so and had calculated very nicely systems that allowed it to produce a good amount of timber...we had goals set for each week depending on the type of wood we were cutting, these goals were being met regularly and we were not working ourselves into the ground..a real safety issue in a sawmill that used the old style sodding great saws with manual handling of timber.
<g> then they hired a new salesman.
This was a more gradual process, but what it amounted to was that he always somehow 'underestimated' our ability to produce timber and oversold to clients.  usually this would be a good thing, more timber sales = more $ = everyone happy.
The kicker here though was that he always went out of his way to sabotage discussions about future requirements for work hours and employees...the upshoot was that by the end of two years we were all working twice as hard, for 1/4 as much timber and the same money.  Things didn't come right again until the actual owner popped in to see how things were going...he stayed helping for a couple of weeks and then left again, leaving instructions to either hire more staff and up to 3 shifts or to reduce sales.
In both of the above cases we were saved by having managers/owners who were actually intelligent people.

now, fast forward to the current day and my job as computer programmer for a software company.
<g> actually Ive typed so much that Ive lost enthusiasm for the whole question, Im sure you can see where Im going..this isn't meant to be a whine so much as an inquisitive question...does *anyone* out there have any good experiences to do with salesman?  anything that may restore my confidence in their competence and good nature?

dead tired and no end in sight
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Sales people are completely focused on the results. Whether they measure them weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc., they always have a number to meet, and are being pushed to meet higher and higher numbers.

It's no surprise, then, that sales people will do anything to meet or beat their number. Their livelihood is almost always tied to whether they can do it. My experience is that most sales people focus on the end without any concern with the other issues being caused in the company.

In fairness, though, they are probably just as frustrated with engineering. They have nothing but hard dates, but in my experience, engineering is the one to slip the most dates in a pure software company. A slipped date of a week or two can have pretty devastating effects on a sales cycle.

Brad (
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Salespeople that work for you are good blokes -- the very best.

Salespeople that work for anyone else are the devil.

--Hope that clears things up.

Monday, March 17, 2003

'fraid you've been had chum. You seem like a hard worker with a lot of brains so I'm suprised you missed it. Let me explain.

In your story, you make the salesman out to be the 'bad' guy. That may well be true, but who do you think sets their agenda--the owner. I've seen this time and again. Salesman overbooks(carpet,lumber, software..whatever) and the guys who actually do the work have to figure out how to deliver with no extra help. Fact is the owner sets the sales goals. Do you really think he cares about you?

Same in the software game. I worked in SV for ten years. Managers in charge of product delivery overpromise deliverables all the time. When crunch time comes the programmers have to put up or shut up(18hr/days). Now days they're even asked to 'eat' overtime. How do you think the H1B/L1 Visa's came about?   

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

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