Sales training

Author: Dave Cassel  |  Category: Career

This week I’m doing something completely different, and a bit outside my comfort zone — I’m in sales training. No, I’m not planning a career change. My company is sending everyone in the sales organization to this training, and as a pre-sales consultant, here I am.

I wasn’t real excited about this. After all, I’m a professional geek and quite happy with that. How would sales training make me a better developer? But it didn’t take long for me to get on board with the idea.

The first advantage of this training for me is tactical — people in my company will be using this program and a lot of vocabulary will get tossed around. By going through the training, I can be part of the conversation instead of sitting quietly, waiting for the sales people to start speaking English.

Naturally, there is a bigger benefit — one that is often neglected by techies. As a techie, I often think of projects that I feel would be useful for the company I’m working for to pursue. The challenge then is to get management buy-in so those I can get to work on it. I think I saw this most acutely when I worked in an R&D department at Lockheed Martin. I saw, repeatedly, cases where engineers thought of good ideas to pursue but got really frustrated over their inability to get approval for the project. The reasons why will come as no surprise to those who are comfortable with selling: lack of alignment with company goals, apathy (or in some cases disdain) for politics, leading with technology instead of solving a business problem. When I was at LM, I was aware that my proposals suffered from those problems, but I never really got a handle on how to fix them. I don’t think I would have been receptive to sales training back then, but I’m seeing now that such training can be as useful for working inside your company as it is for sales people looking to show value to potential customers. Taking this class is something I never would have done on my own, but I’m glad MarkLogic wanted me to take it.

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