Uncle Sam,  sales icon

Uncle Sam the persuader

My apologies to sales people for mocking you in the previous post. I’m sure that IT people and project mangers get mocked in sales publications all the time. I have in fact worked with some excellent sales staff, but that’s not to say you’re not entitled to some payback for all the times you promised the client vapour-ware and then expected me to install it.

Such was the case with my client (story continues from previous post). The poor unfortunate project manager trying to install the system was left to contend with any discrepancies between what was promised and what was going to get installed. It was usually about features that were still being developed and not quite ready but it invariably required senior management to become involved to pacify the client and resolve the matter while the sales people were busy seducing the next client. This is not good use of company executive time; it’s not good for implementation projects which start off on the wrong foot; and it’s not good for the reputation of the company.

The sales force is the face of the company; they are the ones making the promises; they have the contacts in the company to stay abreast of what can and can’t be sold. They should answer to the client if the promises can’t be upheld.

The simple answer is to appoint the sales person as the (vendor) project sponsor. The commitment is little more than attending a few meetings and acting as a buffer between the project and the company executives on matters that cannot be resolved with the scope of a ‘normal’ implementation.

What it means is that the sales person represents their company from initial contact to completed implementation. It means that if it gets to the stage where company executives are drawn into the fight, and the first few times it probably will, the salesperson will be in the room. It means that the lessons learned about sales from implementation and vice versa are inherent and not just a footnote from an annoyed company executive who was drawn into a project to resolve a conflict.

It is a brave move but the long term benefits to the sales force, the implementers and to the company reputation will by far overshadow any initial pain.