Feature

Quality Awards: Top NAS products

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Sales competence
Sales competence measures the vendor's sales effectiveness in meeting customer needs. The efforts of a sales team not only sets expectations, but can become the foundation of the customer-vendor relationship. When Hawaiian Airlines in Honolulu was shopping for a NAS system, Kevin Kekoa, manager of operations and systems engineering, felt NetApp wasn't very persistent in pursuit of his business, which left the door open for EMC Corp. "[EMC] offered a model that was two levels above what NetApp was offering for the same amount," says Kekoa. That kind of aggressive salesmanship paid off, and today the company is solidly an EMC shop.

Midrange NAS

Among enterprise systems, sales competence had the smallest differences among scores of any category, with HDS at the top (6.30) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. at the low end (5.67). The scores in this category didn't reveal any real strength or weakness, as all vendors except Dell Inc. (5.32) in the midrange category fell within (or very close to) the normal 5.5 to 6.5 scoring range. NetApp's midrange score (6.52) was the highest among all vendors in the sales competence category, but the lowest top score of the five categories.

We asked respondents how well their sales rep understood their industry, how flexible and knowledgeable reps are, and how easy it is to negotiate with their rep. In almost all cases, the highest

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marks were given for "My sales rep is knowledgeable." With only one exception, the lowest sales competence marks for both categories were for "My sales rep keeps my interests foremost." While users feel their rep is competent, vendors would be well advised to adopt a more cooperative philosophy to get an edge in the sales cycle.

This was first published in May 2006

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