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The sales process initiates the user's product experience, sets expectations, and may determine whether a product is perceived to be successful or not. In many cases, a vendor's sales reps are the primary points of contact for users. Successful sales organizations are consultative in nature, and ensure that their products are appropriately matched to a user's needs. Sales organizations focused on "meeting quota" will be less particular about assessing the application environment. In this
section of our survey, we asked respondents to evaluate sales teams' knowledge of customers' businesses and industries, whether they keep their customers' needs foremost, and how easy or difficult it is to negotiate with a vendor's sales team.
Mike Bottger, technology consultant at National City Bank in Cleveland, notes that neither of his array vendors--HDS and IBM--oversold their products. "Whatever we agreed to, whatever we signed on for, each has delivered," says Bottger.
A link between sales competence and product satisfaction was revealed. Sun netted the highest score in the sales competence category and placed second overall, while HDS placed second in the category and was the overall winner (see "Sales force," this page).
Of course, some users simply don't rely on their sales reps for technical prowess. "The sales support team is usually a little bit light, so it's better that we talk to the engineers or even the product managers," notes a senior storage architect at a large communications and Internet service provider. "From a technical standpoint, they're not deep enough," he adds.
This was first published in August 2005