Each and every one of us has probably dealt with some type of “salespeople”, be it phone salesmen, insurance, car sales, B2B sales etc. And you’ve also probably formed some sort of stereotype of what a salesperson is like, based either on your own experiences or maybe urban legends. A common (mis)conception, especially in the software business is the classical “over-promise under-deliver” concept. Sales is seen as a problem, always promising customers things that can’t possibly be delivered in the promised time frame. Communication, education or motivation can be some of the reasons behind the issues, but overall it creates an unfortunate circle of negativity. I’m fairly glad that I can honestly say, that this is not the case at Gofore.
Transparency is key
Generally judging something or someone without researching and understanding necessary background information and facts is just plain stupid. Quite a lot of information is open at Gofore, either by just browsing to the appropriate site in Confluence, or dropping a question in Slack to an appropriate channel quickly gets you the information you need. So during one of the (occasionally rather heated, I must admit) sales-resourcing discussions in Slack, I said that it would be interesting to see what a day in a sales role looks like, to understand better how it works. 10 minutes in, and we’d agreed on date with one of our Lead Consultants, Ville. Agile, yeah!
A day in the life of
To understand my point of view a bit, I’m the guy at the customer’s office, wearing a hoodie and noise-cancelling headphones trying to solve various problems with code, happily unaware of the world around me. Guys like Ville handle everything to make this possible.
So heading to meet Ville on a rainy Thursday morning, I had no clue of what to expect of the day.
Meeting Ville at a Café in Pasila. Ville goes through some of the responsibilities in his role, keeping existing clients happy, providing them with the help and resources they need, acquiring new clients, creating offers, development of a certain industry segment… Quite a lot of stuff. I ask questions and try to get a better understanding of each area of responsibility, but the entirety is not easily understood over a single cup of coffee.
We’re joined by Terhi, another one of our Lead Consultants. We start making our way to the first meeting of the day, a steering group meeting with an existing customer. For the duration of the walk, Terhi and Ville discuss about the situation at the customer, and I start getting an idea of what the meeting is about.
Meeting the customer. Everything discussed here is confidential, so can’t share any of it. What I can say though, that I’m very, very happy that we have people dealing with these kinds of meetings. Even the more sensitive stuff is dealt with in a very professional manner from both sides. Heavy, complex stuff, that, I can say, my Python skills wouldn’t be able to solve.
Making our way back to Kamppi, so we’d be closer to the next meeting in the afternoon. Also, lunch.
Going through a fairly large public tender, and the current status of the planned offer. Gathering the needed amount of references and all the required information about them, filling up the required forms in exactly the correct manner, finding suitable people to fit the requirements, gathering their CV’s etc. Tons and tons of work, and this needs to be done by tomorrow? Why of course. Also, interesting to see, that at this point it’s been decided to not participate in a part of the tender that would include some, how to put it, hairy tech. As we go through the process I’m also seeing tons of potential for automating parts of the process, to save hours of time. Won’t help for this offer though, as the timeline is so tight. Again, I’m fairly glad that we have pedantic people taking care of these, as it would be a complete mess with my patience and organizing skills.
We start heading to the next meeting. An existing customer has invited us for a visit, as they have a fairly fresh project going that they would need help with.
Customer is clearly excited about the new project. He enthusiastically explains the current state and the plan of the project, and I’m starting to get excited as well because we’re apparently dealing with a fairly tech-savvy guy here. Ville is making notes with such a speed that it seems like he’s capturing every word of the requirements on the first go. I’m starting to hear terms that I really like: Cloud, Scalable, Docker, AWS, GCE, REST, React. I can actually take part in this conversation, and I give some comments on the architecture and technologies. Yay! I did something!
We end the meeting on agreeing how to move forward, how to deal with the bureaucracy and when should the needed experts start. Sounds like a very interesting project, I very nearly volunteered myself!
We end the day by having a beer and going through bits of the day. Honestly, I’m pretty beat and my head is spinning with all the new information. Lot’s of stuff outside my comfort-zone, but I did learn quite a lot. Ville’s day is not over yet though, as he still has to finish the offer for tomorrow.
I’m pretty happy on how the day turned out. With an open mind and zero expectations, I had a great time and now understand a bit more on how sales works.
Any time you’re having a hard time grasping someones side of an argument, try hopping in their shoes for a day, and it might help you to understand them a bit better. Especially in case you’re working for the same business, you’re very likely to have similar goals in your work i.e. for the company to succeed and people to enjoy their time there.