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Sharper sales teams
On most Quality Awards surveys, the lowest user ratings typically appear in the sales-force competence category, as was the case on the most recent midrange array survey. With tighter budgets and often urgent needs, storage managers expect sales reps and their support teams to be responsive and well-informed. Just a few years ago on our second midrange survey, the overall average for the sales category was a tepid 5.28, indicating that users' expectations were likely met but rarely exceeded. This time around, the category average is 6.47, suggesting strong -- and probably effective -- efforts by vendors' sales forces.
Compellent picked up its first category win with a 6.81, buoyed by scores of 7.00-plus for the statements "My sales rep keeps my interests foremost" and "The vendor's sales support team is knowledgeable." In all, Compellent came out on top for four of the six category statements. HP didn't lead for any single statement, but lined up ratings running from 6.45 to 6.96 to finish second with a category average of 6.67. Third-place finisher Hitachi (6.59) was high scorer for two of the category statements ("My sales rep is knowledgeable about my industry" and "My sales rep understands my business").
Whether it's in response to the rigors of a down economy or reaction to surveys such as this, vendors appear to be redoubling their sales efforts.
Click here to get a PDF of the Quality Awards V: Midrange Arrays standings.
Implementation and initial quality
A positive sales experience is a great way to start a relationship, but it can quickly be derailed if problems arise during deployment of the product. Here, too, in the initial product quality category, our midrange array vendors seem to be surpassing expectations as well as their previous performances. Ratings were high across the board in this category, with Compellent posting above-7.00 scores for five of the six statements en route to a 7.21 category average finish. Compellent's only sub-7.00 score was a 6.93 for "This product was installed without any defects." Hitachi's rating of 6.94 for that statement topped Compellent by the slimmest possible margin.
HP nudged out Dell for the second spot in the category (6.88 vs. 6.80), and garnered the only other 7.00-plus score (a 7.06) for the key statement "This product is easy to use." Not too far behind Dell, the rest of the field was packed almost too tightly to see any space among them; a mere .05 points separated Oracle (Sun), Hitachi and IBM (tied), NetApp and EMC Corp.
And if perfection is the goal of midrange array vendors, they appear to be well on their way, as the average score for all eight products for the statement "This product was installed without any defects" was a glossy 6.81.
This was first published in September 2010