Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Greasy Eddie’s Software

As the old expression goes, “you don’t fired for buying Greasy Eddie’s Identity Management Software”. Or was it you don’t get fired for buying IBM?

Doesn’t matter. I can make my point just as easy either way.

People are going to buy what best serves their self interest. In this case, their self interest is often don’t screw this up, Wilbur!!

Employers often hire new people in sales to have access to their rolodex. It’s a good idea. We always prefer to deal with the devil that we know. But nobody with more than 42 brain cells is going to make a corporate or an individual buying decision because they think “that Timmy fella sure is a nice”.

In the case of buying corporate software, your contact at MegaHyperCorp won’t blow up what he’s already pregnant with because, you,“his friend” at Wile E. Coyote Corp (a wholly owned subsidiary of Acme).. well, he thinks you’re a swell guy and his boss thought your PowerPoint presentation was just delightful. They only way they’re buying your stuff is if they have a gaping hole in the roof, it’s raining anthrax spores and you’re selling Acme’s Instant Roof Hole Fix’er Upper (and the Acme product is compatible with their 3 million dollar investment in IMB infrastructure).

What if there are no pre-conditions to a sale happening? That’s great. That rolodex helps here, providing lubricant to that squeaky door that everyone keeps trying to push open.

But back to self-interest, because it’s highly relevant here also. Whether you’re incredibly kind and benevolent (like the Dalai Lama) or not (like Charles Manson), humans put their self-interest first. Always. This includes the guy who volunteers at the soup kitchen. He’s a nice guy, don’t get me wrong…a very nice guy. But a HUGE reason he does that volunteer work is because it makes him feel good to do good. That’s self interest being exercised in an enlightened way. If everyone consistently served even part of their self-interest in that manner, we’d all live in paradise. But most people’s laundry list of needs is highly tainted by trying to avoid pain, unpleasantness and just trying to avoid being disturbed.

It doesn’t make you a bad person, it’s the way 99.999% of the planet operates, including many very nice people. It’s a time-stamped trait super-glued on our DNA and, sometimes, it serves a purpose like keeping us alive. But usually we act in this manner because we are afraid. We are afraid of losing what we have, we are afraid of losing what we know. We don’t want any surprises; we want to be “secure”.

So, kids, what can we take from all this if our job is to sell things? Find the people who not only needs your stuff but won’t be constantly playing doomsday scenarios in their head. How do you do that? You ask them DIRECT questions in a polite, diplomatic yet firm way. Ask them to be truthful and assure them your feelings will not be hurt if they are unwilling or unable to legitimately consider what it is you hope they’ll consider.