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What's It Like For a Developer To Go Into Sales? 85

An anonymous reader asks: "I've worked for a single, very large technology company since graduating from college in '89. My degree is in Computer Science, and I've written everything from embedded machine code for big iron to applications with Smalltalk. I'm still in development, but since '99 my programming tasks have been replaced by project management, some customer-facing work (technical-ish presentations, demonstrations, training, and the like), helping our marketing people position my team's work, and other things that programmers generally don't like to do. Are you a former developer who went into sales? If so, what were your experiences like from a professional and personal perspective? What advice would you give to a developer considering a new career in sales?"
I find that I enjoy the broad, technical perspective that comes from working in the field, and I'm thinking about moving out of development and into technical sales. Moreover, I've interviewed several techies in my company who are now in sales and all tell them they love it. Several have reported that a techie can make more money in sales. However, I do have several reservations: I am an introvert and a full day of face-time can really sap my energy, many sales people I've worked with are 'sharks' (which I simply cannot be), and I don't like the idea of putting part of my salary at-risk.
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What's It Like For a Developer To Go Into Sales?

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  • I'm in Sales (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In Sales, we constantly have to lie to people, be fake, and manipulative. If you can live with yourself, you should be OK.

    There is constant pressure, no matter how hard you're working, to do more, make more calls, etc. If you can live with this, then you might actually enjoy sales.

    But I should warn you, the sales managers that I have worked for have been some of the most evil scum I've ever met. They encourage using every tactic to con people into buying the crap we're selling, regardless of whether it is n
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is where you work, perhaps. This may even be the norm at some large companies. But any reputable company worth its salt does not build its sales foundation on a pack of lies.

      Good salesmanship doesn't require any level of deception. In fact it is anathema to being a good salesperson, as your reputation will suffer unless you are one hell of a liar, and likely somebody else in your department/division/etc who is not dishonest would contradict you anyway, causing your reputation to suffer.

      I've done sales
      • Another thing to watch out for is don't get down too deep in the weeds. While it's important to go over the features and functionalities of the product, chances are the person you're taking too isn't technical enough to understand.
    • "the world would be a whole lot better off. No pressure calls (just to touch base, yeah right) would mean people would only buy what they needed, not what they were talked into buying."

      You're describing a large-scale movement from "push" technology and marketing to "pull" mechanisms. I advise you and OP to read Cluetrain: []

      If you haven't already
    • I'm in sales also, and I don't lie to my customers, co-workers or management. At all. Period.

      Want to know why?

      Because lying doesn't work if you want to be one of the best, and make your living in a sales organization. Out of all of the *top producing* sales professionals that I know, *ALL* have a very high degree of integrity. The reason is that in this field you not only need to close the initial deal, but you need to continue to work with the same people and organizations month in and month out in ord

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )
      "In Sales, we constantly have to lie to people, be fake, and manipulative. If you can live with yourself, you should be OK."

      A lot of coders are like that as well, they just bank on the fact they will be long gone before things fall apart.
  • Interesting choice (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Developer vs Salesman, thats like a dog becoming a cat... Sure the dog can think its a cat, it can walk along the back of the sofa and try to balance on the arm, can make a pathetic attempt at purring and rub up against your leg when it wants food. But in the end he is still a dog, still cocks his leg to pee, still barks when the mail man comes and still chews bones. Do you want to be hated by your fellow developers for joining the ranks of people who sell what you have yet to even think of writing?

    I hav
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      To be honest, at a previous company, I think both the customers and the developers would have loved to have had salesmen that actually understood the product they were selling. Given the products that were being sold, that meant you had to at least be conversant in software development, as buying the software was only step one of many that included additional development to actually experience the ROI the software was capable of delivering. Instead we had empty headed fast talking imbeciles without half a c
    • Developer vs Salesman, thats like a dog becoming a cat...
      Freeze it and saw it with a chainsaw.. meow!
  • Dare say no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:16AM (#18275076) Homepage
    One of the worst pitfalls of being in sales (with the pressure of actually selling) is becoming a "Yes-man". The kind of sales person who will sell anything, regardless of the actual feasibility of the project.

    If you dare to tell a customer "No" some execs might flinch, but in the long run you tend to get a reputation as a person who's honest and actually delivers.

    Therefore, unless you can be confident you really can tell the customer what you won't do, don't become a salesman.
    • Agree. Don't say yes when your product can't do what the customer what the customer explicitly requires, especially in writing. I had a vendor do that to me once, and we sued and recovered not only the cost of the software, but our costs implementing their "solution" (which was 5 times the license cost) plus legal fees. That vendor will probably be a little more careful next time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by putaro ( 235078 )
      Amen. Not only that but many customers ask for things they don't really want, they're just kind of curious. If the product does do it then they're happy but if it doesn't no big deal. If the feature *is* a deal breaker, telling them yes when it's really no just means that the deal will get broken later. Even worse, if they though that the feature was a deal breaker, you tell them "no" but they like the product or company, they may rethink a bit and decide that it's not a deal break.

      Lying catches up with
      • Lying catches up with the company eventually. Unfortunately it often does not catch up with the salesperson doing the lying.

        So true it hurts - I'm the developer who gets to implement whatever BS sales have sold to a client this week. Usually by the end of the day. Without delaying any of the other projects I'm working on.

        Needless to say, I'm looking for a new job.
        • Ugh yes, I've seen some frankly utterly barmy feature requests, that got 'pushed through' because the salesdrone in question had already sold that feature to a customer.
        • by nuzak ( 959558 )
          > So true it hurts - I'm the developer who gets to implement whatever BS sales have sold to a client this week.

          If these are feature requests going into an actual product and not some kind of pure service, find out who the product manager is. Talk to him or her and mention how some folks in sales are making bogus claims about the product that you're then expected to throw in ad hoc. PM's get pissed off to no end at that kind of thing, and they're generally high up enough to do something about it.

          If you
      • by Rimbo ( 139781 )
        As a wise man once told me, "Better to be the bad guy at the beginning than to be the bad guy at the end."
  • Sales vs. Techy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sobrique ( 543255 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:18AM (#18275090) Homepage
    I did a bit of investigation into a 'Technical pre-sales role'.

    My conclusion was that Sales can be fun, but ... well a salesman is fundamentally different in outlook to a techy - you're probably used to being well aware of what's wrong with a product, workarounds, hacks, and things that just plain suck

    As sales, you _need_ to be focussing on what's great, why it's fantastic, and why this is exactly the thing they need in their business, beyond anything else.

    My problem was/is that that's a bit too much like lying. You're telling your customer that yours is absolutely the best for them, and unless you're in a small subset of occurances, this is not the case.

    Often, if it's obviously a 'bad idea' you won't get the sale, however you need to be deciding whether you can keep a straight face when you wholeheartedly recommend the product that gives you commission, over the one over there, that you use at home because it is actually better.

    Some can, some can't.

    Just remember, sales is far nearer to prostitution than to engineering. As a techy, you're looking for the best and most cost effective solution to their problem, out of a portfolio of options. As a salesperson you're aiming to look good, seduce your customers, and screw them for money.

    • by Threni ( 635302 )
      > My conclusion was that Sales can be fun, but ... well a salesman is fundamentally different in outlook to a techy - you're probably
      > used to being well aware of what's wrong with a product, workarounds, hacks, and things that just plain suck

      You'll have to pencil in about 2 weeks off work for the lobotomy, plus another day or so shopping for a nice suit and a shiny pair of shoes.
      • by eric76 ( 679787 )
        That bit about the lobotomy sounds about right.

        One problem I've had when dealing with customers is that I try to explain why something is like it is.

        Most customers don't want that. All they really want to know is whether or not it can do what they want. When you try to explain how it works, they just think you are either trying to snow them or that you think they are dumb.

        If I thought they were dumb, I'd just tell them that it does what they want. I only try to explain anything to those who I think can e
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
        Having been in purchasing you learn to know there are actually two kinds of sales staff, company reps and sales reps. Company reps when properly used are all about maintaining a relationship between the customer and the supplier.

        They check to make sure service and support is properly functioning, that product is performing properly and they work to resolve any problems between the customer and the company (generally used to represent quality companies that produce quality products).

        Sales reps off course

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eivind Eklund ( 5161 )

      As sales, you _need_ to be focussing on what's great, why it's fantastic, and why this is exactly the thing they need in their business, beyond anything else. My problem was/is that that's a bit too much like lying. You're telling your customer that yours is absolutely the best for them, and unless you're in a small subset of occurances, this is not the case.

      You have worked sales a sucky place.


      The best sales reps I've worked with were all completely honest, and the best sales coaches[1] seems to all recommend being completely honest.

      I've come across some fairly effective sales people that didn't care, that would cut a corner to get a sale, that didn't care if what they sold were possible or not. But the best have all been doing "I want the customer to have this product because this product is great! I think this product will be the right one

      • My experience of sales is limited, I admit - I've been to two places, one which had a sales culture based on bare faced lying, and bullying.

        The other, where, to be fair, they were selling a pretty good product, but it cost >10x as much as an alternative which worked as well, for 95% of applications. (It had some high end bells and whistles. IF you had to have them, then it was worth it, but the majority, really didn't.)

    • by xtracto ( 837672 )
      Hi Marge, I didnt know you posted on slashdot.

      Remember, there is a difference between:
      The Truth
      "The Truth"

      L. Hutz
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:23AM (#18275120)
    You'll need to be able to run fast, after you tell developers that you've just sold their prototype to a customer.
  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:23AM (#18275124)
    "...project management, some customer-facing work (technical-ish presentations, demonstrations, training, and the like), helping our marketing people position my team's work, and other things that programmers generally don't like to do."

    If you don't like the last two things on your list, you'd be making a big mistake getting into sales. The big question is "Are you a salesman?" That's all that's required to be in sales. I know it sounds simple but it's a very important question. Can you sell the product? Can you go out and find the customers willing to buy the product? It's a hard job and while they may be lazy at other aspects of their job, salesmen work their tails off to sell. I used to train salesmen on the more technical aspects of what my former company sold. As a general rule, salesmen can pick up what they need to know about a product to sell it faster than someone familiar with the product can pick up the sales skills needed to sell it. I'm surprised your company even offers you the opportunity to get into sales.
    • Exactly... and the software companies I worked for, I was astonished of the time spent by the sales droids on the PHONE. They only did face-face for the BIG sales. And it hit me... do these guys even care what they are selling? Nope.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:26AM (#18275156) Journal

    Face it, you just don't work that way. I was asked to go along with our sales guy to back him up. He was amazingly good at it but weak on the tech side, but no worries that is were I came in and it worked.

    Only problem on the ride home I would be knackered, an early meeting would leave me useless for the rest of the day.

    HR and Sales people by their nature are not introverts. They LIKE hanging out with people, a good meeting invocorates them, gets them buzzing and eager to make things happen. You will be wanting a siesta.

    It is extremely hard for extroverts (the majority of people) to relate to introverts. it is NOT that we are anti-social, or don't enjoy being with people, it just tires us. Extroverts are charged up after a party, intoverts are drained. Typical HR fault when dealing with techies (often introverts) throw an early social meeting and then hope to get some work done. Good luck, all the techies will be drained, do socials ONLY on fridays at the end of the day, to the techie can recharge during the weekend.

    Then there is an other aspect. Social skill, not that introverts don't have them, but ask yourselve this, do you have to remember others people birthdays, name of kids, golf score OR does that come natural to you. You don't ask about their family, you WANT to know about their family, it won't be a good day if you don't hear about it. Extroverts really care, they are not being social because they have too, they need too.

    Not that introverts don't care, it is just that they don't HAVE to know. If they are told, they will remember and show concern but if you don't tell them that is fine too.

    A introvert doesn't get "why did you never ask me about X, you don't care". They care but if you don't tell them they presume it is none of their business.

    Sales people HAVE to show they care, that they know the customer, what he likes, what he dislikes. An introvert will find this very taxing.

    I did sort of enjoy assisting the sales guy, it was intresting to see what goes on before the spec is drawn that you will have to build. But I also found it to be tiring with lots of senseless talking and not enough getting things done.

    it was nice to do as a change of pace, but to do that the whole week, year in year out? Your choice offcourse but don't make the mistake of thinking that something you like doing every now and then makes a good career. You might like sex, but would you enjoy becoming a porn star?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      There's just one small problem with your post. Introvert/extrovert isn't a binary state. It's a gradient.* Also sales just like any profession is a learned skill (several actually). And last "sales" isn't a blob. There are different degrees of sales. The first step he should take is "Know Thyself". Grab a copy of "Zen and the art of making a living: latest edition", and work through the exercises. This will help regardless of what one wants to do with their life.

      *It can also change over time.
    • While I am seduced by the idea, I think it's risky to categorize people as extroverts and introverts and declare that introverts are doomed to suck at sales.

      Following your logic, I completely qualify as introvert. I don't think that precludes me from going into sales (i'm a hard techie right now), and I am interested in broadening my experience.

      Let's take an example of selling I had to do: myself. Writing my CV and cover letter was like scratching my nails on a blackboard, at first. I once spent a whole sle
    • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @11:51AM (#18276818) Journal

      Only problem on the ride home I would be knackered, an early meeting would leave me useless for the rest of the day.
      The best definition of "introvert" and "extrovert" I have seen is than an extrovert is someone who is energized by interacting with people, and an introvert is someone who is drained by interacting with people. This definition especially holds true for large groups of people, but what qualifies as "large" varies from person to person.

      (Your post hinted at this, I wanted to highlight it explicitly.)

      Deep down, we all believe everybody is "exactly like me", but I'm pretty sure they are both kinds of people in the world.

      The nice thing about this definition is that it is fairly value-neutral, and it accounts for reality better than most definitions. An introvert is certainly statistically more likely than an extrovert to be socially inept, but it's not an intrinsic failing, it's simply that the extrovert is likely to have more practice, because they enjoy social interaction more. Nothing stops an introvert from becoming socially capable, and I find definitions that try to work social skills into them fail to model, well, most of the programmers I know, who are mostly introverts, but none of them are totally socially inept, really.

      By this definition, yes, an introvert should absolutely not go into sales. Extroverts will likely have a harder time as a programmer than an introvert, because programming has significant bits where it's just you and the computer. However, that's not the whole job and an extrovert can survive on the collaboration parts; I've seen it. But since sales is pretty much 100% dealing with people, introverts should follow some of the most ancient advice, "Know Thyself", and stay away.

      Oh, and this is of course a continuum, not a binary distinction.
      • This definition especially holds true for large groups of people, but what qualifies as "large" varies from person to person.

        This is where you should clarify the "interacting" bit--introverts are no different from extroverts when they've giving presentations or otherwise doing one-way communication with large groups of people. It may be easier and more fun to an introvert than, say, a party.

    • You might like sex, but would you enjoy becoming a porn star?

      Yes. Oh, yes I would.

      Seriously, though, the reservations he mentioned (introverted, risk-averse, not a 'shark') preclude him from being happy in sales. I am also an introvert and risk-averse, and while I *can* be a shark, I don't like to be one, it makes me feel icky. I've done sales, and while it was lucrative, I was miserable within one year -- and that affected my sales figures.

      Sales isn't for everyone. If he's not sure, then he can give

    • by Seumas ( 6865 )
      Sales people have to drink the kool-aid. Period. They're irrational, bloviating, pie-in-the-sky kindergartners on crack with no sense of reality. They have a lot in common with religious zealots that attend church services four or five times every week.

      By the way, what the hell is "invocorates"? That sounds like a word a sales person would invent. Sales people often have the worst grammar and spelling on the planet, so perhaps one handed that down to you? :D
    • You might like sex, but would you enjoy becoming a porn star?
      Yes, please.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I disagree. I am an introvert, and a developer, and I spent two modestly successful years in sales.

      Sales isn't a single task, and it can be handled with a variety of styles. Cold calling, glad-handing, and schmoozing are all extremely tiring and stressful for introverts. And you hardly need any of it. I think introversion is a special case of a person's overall tendency to focus narrowly and intensely. Floodlight people have broad interests and as such do well with broad interactions with lots of peo

  • One word - boring! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by putaro ( 235078 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:26AM (#18275160) Journal
    I've been a software developer or software developer manager for most of my career. There was one six month stretch, though, where because of some very strange reorganizations in the company I was working for I found myself a sales engineer in a field sales office.

    The first problem was that the product I was selling, disk arrays, was so simple at the sales level that I was bored silly. You can only go over the feed and speeds on a disk array so many time before going completely batty. Second, I had no respect from the development team back at headquarters. When I installed the first unit off the assembly line at a customer and ran some benchmarks against it that came back really bad the response from HQ was "you don't know how to run benchmarks." I'd spent the previous 8 years as a supercomputer kernel developer. I knew a couple of things about benchmarking and also about what kind of performance customers were expecting and I turned out to be correct in everything (the company wound up withdrawing the product and upgrading all of the customers who had bought it to a more expensive, truly high performance system). It was very difficult to be put into a role where you can see problems and no one will listen to you or respect your knowledge. Third, salespeople are *BORING*. All they want to talk about around the office is money, leads and occasionally sports. No politics, no technology, no books, no movies, no Monty Python.

    I look back on those six months as being very valuable as I learned a lot about sales from a worldclass sales team and I learned a lot about salespeople. But six months was really my limit (afterwards I returned to OS development for a few years). If you want to do it for the money and you think deals and money are exciting you'll enjoy it. Otherwise you'll be bored stiff.
    • I'm not quite an extrovert but I'm very comfortable doing meetings, explaining products and talking with people. The part of sales that I found to be extremely difficult is not doing the sales calls. It's all of the work that leads up to the call. The phone calls, and the rejection. Unless your product is one where all of your prospective call you (think Oracle databases) you will have to spend a lot of your time finding leads and getting rejected in order to make your quota.
  • I think they key is to work for an organisation that sells solutions, not commodities.

    Like you I couldn't sell something that wouldn't do the job. Unless you plan to change your company name every time you sell something you just can't get away with selling things that aren't fit for purpose.

    Treat it like a coding problem. You've got a set of criteria and you need to provide the building blocks to get around their problem (be it cost, process engineering or whatever).

    But again, you need to pick who
  • Didn't work for me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:32AM (#18275224)
    You'll probably find it a bit of a disaster if you are the stereotypical developer. You'll be secretly hacking some personal project instead of making sales calls.
  • By simply asking the question here, you've indicated that you are more of a deliberate type of person--the kind of person that needs to be sold on things. That trait right there indicates that you won't particularly make a great salesman. That's not to say that you'll be a bad one, just that you'll more likely try to actually help the customer and give them what they need. Many of your customers will appreciate this. However, your boss won't. And at the end of the day, you answer to your boss. I'd avoid the
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:55AM (#18275440) Homepage Journal

    I am an introvert and a full day of face-time can really sap my energy, many sales people I've worked with are 'sharks' (which I simply cannot be), and I don't like the idea of putting part of my salary at-risk.
    When the three greatest requirements of a job are the exact three things you specify not being into, for goodness' sake stay the hell away from that job.
  • The best sales people are techies ... customers tend to be not half as stupid as the people out there with marketing degree's these days ... they don't want to talk to someone who is just gonna talk trash.

    Market people seem to be caught up with lectures they received in econ 101 and tend to know nothing about the domain they are in.

    If you want your organization to be successful hire a good CFO and a good contract negotiator. And leave all the up front work to developers. Good techies and good custo

  • You've been a developer, right? Have you ever had to work tons of (free) overtime to fulfill some salesman's wild promises to a customer in order to get himself a big, fat commission? When you put out that software, which generally sucks because of the ridiculous time pressures, and had to support that software, have you ever had anyone tell you how lousy you are at your job for writing it like that? Have you ever felt like a total ass for doing something for free, sacrificing your free time and your hom
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've heard that the operations (labotomy and tongue-forking) are no fun but once you recover everything's ok.
  • Most Sales folks have one or two Sales Engineers assigned to them as part of any meaningful software sale. The role is a fuzzy combination of Sales, Development, and Consulting. Part of it is to be the internal voice to Sales to keep them from taking a gig that would bring ruin. Another is taking the core product, and knowing it well enough to adapt it the goofy requirements the customer is asking for. It is also sales. You get to become part of the Sales process, often sharing some of the windfall but
  • There may be some people who are natural born salesmen, but you and I probably aren't. There are even standardized tests to help you gauge where you are. When I went out on my own I did some sales classes and they were very helpful.

    Be sure to check the field of what's available and what techniques each uses. The School of Hard Sales wasn't for me - I just don't think that way to be able to do it effectively. Sandler was a better fit for my personality. If you're near New Hampshire write me and I'll rec
  • I've done sales, technical sales support, post sales engineering, and hardware engineering for several companies. There are short term and long term pluses and minuses going into sales:

    Short Term Pluses
    More pay

    Short Term Minuses
    Performance Pressure

    Long Term Pluses

    Long Term Minuses
    Performance Pressure
    Dated Engineering Skills and Network

    In the short term it might be just the fit for you to try sales. You'll broaden your experience wi
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Frankly I'm somewhat surprised by the responses that have come across in this topic. Sales people just aren't evil. They are highly compensated because they are important, and yes they do tend to be coin operated. However, the very successful sales people tend to have all of the qualities that are found in truly successful people in any field, and those aren't things that are "evil" or "foul".

    Sales is a craft, just like development, and just like most people do development badly, there are a ton of bad s
  • I've got over 6 years as the solitary IT guy at a small sales company. We are the "used car sales" of electronic components (chips/caps/connectors/etc.). Prior to that I worked for Fortune 100/500 companies and had no exposure to sales. Here's my observations.

    1. If you want to make real money (via commission) and don't want to own a company, then sales is your only realistic choice. Otherwise, you will constantly be bound by a salary range/cap. Even if you get performance bonuses, they will never come
    • by putaro ( 235078 )
      6. If you ever want to work on your own or start a company, then you better have a partner who is good at #2/#3/#4, and you both better be ready to deal with #5.

      That depends on the type of product/service you want to sell. My wife and I spent a while trying to make a go at consulting and decided that we needed to spend too much of our time trying to sell ourselves to make it enjoyable. Now we run a small software company producing shrink-wrapped software for consumers. We sell through retail stores and t
  • by Gybrwe666 ( 1007849 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @11:11AM (#18276336)
    While I wasn't a developer, I made the move full time in 2001 to technical sales from a pure engineering/IT management roles.

    The are several issues that arise from this, and they need to be broken out and analyzed separately.

    1) If you are talking technical sales, rather than pure sales, those are generally two entirely different beasts. If you look at Cisco, the sales folks are true sales guys, while the technical sales engineers generally spend most of their time working with the technical groups in the company, demoing new products, working in the test labs, and doing presentations as required to higher management. So being a pre-sales engineer can be very technical and hands on, depends on the company.

    2) Are you going to have to actually do "Sales"? When I made the switch, I realized that there are certain aspects of sales that I don't have the ability and/or will to do. For instance, I can't cold-call to save my life. In the pre-sales engineering roles I've had, I've made it very clear to employers that I am not the person who will find new customers. I tell them up front that given a qualified lead, I can convert a well-above average number to customers. My current position is the closest I've ever come to sales, as I am building a new practice within my company and therefore have taken over account management. However, I have several sources for leads, and I don't find new customers. I think the bottom line is to be very clear about what sort of sales role you want and make sure that you aren't signing up for something that you can't/won't be able to do.

    3) Any salesperson who lies to the customer is a F@#*$-ing idiot. Period. The truth in the IT business is that your best business is repeat customers, and its a lot easier to get more business from a happy customer that it will ever be to find the 60 new prospects that will eventually convert into a few paying customers. At one job, I supported 5 sales guys, three of whom were ex-cell phone sales guys. One was a former field employee, and one was from a technical engineer/development background. For the three cell-phone guys, I had to force them to stop with the lying/exaggerating that they started out doing. It wasn't necessary. We had a great product, and we were competing in a market where our sole true competitor was a company everyone hates. Hell, I'd tell customers we could do some of what they needed and lay out where we wouldn't be a good fit and they'd still sign just because they were sick of our competition. The bottom line is that if you have a decent product, and you target someone with a need for it, lying will simply get you in trouble. I find that telling a customer the truth is a clear differentiator to everyone else, and more often than not, they come to me anyway. A corollary to this is that with many products, there is *NO* single product that does everything the customer needs/wants. Right now, one of my key products is a network management solution. Truth is, there are hundreds of products in that space, and every single one fails in some way for every customer. It might be too expensive, or lack support for a specific protocol, or require a programmer to maintain it, etc. This list goes on. By telling customers the truth you often win their respect and loyalty because most of them aren't stupid enough to actually believe the lies.

    4) Being in sales can be fun. I get to take customers to ball-games, strip-clubs, casinos, expensive dinners, and happy hours. I get to travel a bit. There are definitely perks to having an expense account, and to be honest, its fun.

    5) I'm an introvert too. I have a wife and kids, and when I travel, it bothers me to not be home with my kids. But generally speaking my interaction with customers is exactly the same as it was when I was an engineer and a technical manager. I spent all day on the road as an SE, going from company to company, interacting with customers. As a manager, I spent a lot of time on the phone with technical support, a
    • by ShadyG ( 197269 )
      I have a wife and kids, and when I travel, it bothers me to not be home with my kids.

      Dude, I hope your wife doesn't read your /. posts.
  • The better a sale monkey you shall be.
  • Well, I will say that if you go back into development, it'll make you a MUCH better developer. That's the problem with most developers... they have no idea who their customers are and what they need. That's why so many software products are ridiculously bad. Salespeople are selling one thing, and developers are developing something else. Experience dealing with customers is never a bad thing, and can only help you in whatever your next career is. Do it. If you have the opportunity to break out of the
  • It could be worse. Much worse. Imagine a sales guy becoming a developer!
  • Your ability to succeed will not have much to do with how introverted or extraverted you are. For MBTI fans, I have seen people who type as introverts do very well in sales.

    There is a series of book based on research from the Gallup organization - they have interviewed literally millions of people and they believe they can prove that successful people are those who can apply their natural talents on a consistent basis.

    In a nutshell, your talents are the neurological patterns your brain most easily uses to r
    • Conversly, those who enjoy the technical environment will be very suprised at what life is like under the gun to produce EVERY DAY, ALL THE TIME.

      If you have a group of salespersons who will sell functionality that doesn't exist, it probably won't be that big of a surprise.

      It would be great if more developers ended up in sales roles, since they usually have a better idea of what impact the customer requests have on the coders who make it happen.
  • What's It Like For a Developer To Go Into Sales?

    Probably a lot like selling your soul.
  • You may be able to excel as a sales engineer, which is essentially pre-sales technical support. It requires the ability to prioritize issues coming at you from several sales people, all of whom believe that only their customers and prospects matter. It requires excellent communication skills and the ability to adapt your solutions to strange customer requests or the ability to convince customers that what you offer is better than what they're asking. Most importantly it requires the ability to interact w
  • I am not a developer, but I am a salesman (of sorts).

    My friend, don't listen to any of these guys. They obviously have an axe to grind. There are many types of "salesmen", and many types of products to sell. You wont be an SUV salesmen trying to push ripoff extended warranties, or some pimply faced chump selling cellphones from a booth in the mall.

    It sounds like the products you'll be selling aren't commodities, but rather high value "business solutions" (or something) that require a lot of interaction with
  • What's the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman?
    The used car salesman knows when he is lying.
  • First sell your soul. Once you've done that, selling things will come naturally without that nagging morality getting in the way.
  • ...sales but it is a whole different world then coding. Not the right thing for me!

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault