Why is it that sales and support seem to have this stereotypical rift?
I’ve typically been categorized as an IT guy. I’m OK with that label, because I know people believe labels and categories offer some sense of increased optimization in knowledge management, decision making, and even maintaining relationships. I’ve figured that much out in my short time here on this earth.
However, I also know that I am anything but typical, and always work to understand all sides to situation – both intellectually and emotionally. In so doing, I’ve found it helps me bring quantitative and qualitative data in balance and offer a fair solution to the problem at hand.
The word problem often has a negative connotation. Interestingly enough, the etymology of problem has its roots in the Latin word proballein, which literally means to throw forward. So, one could literally see a problem as a chance to move ahead – an opportunity to advance.
What is so wonderful about perceiving a problem as an opportunity is that it creates opportunity for so many and helps each of us stay employed, educate ourselves, and ultimately strengthen relationships through the process or derived wisdom in either successfully solving or failing to solve the problem.
So how is it that the typical rift between those who seek to create new opportunities and those who seek to maintain the fabric of our daily lives continues? How is it that sales and support organizations have been so stereotypically divided?
The Start of the Communication Breakdown:
I can remember several instances over my career where one sales person or another either directly or indirectly pointed out that if it were not for them I or [insert job title] would not even have a job if it weren’t for them!
Let me ask this, for those of you who are married, do you remember the last time either you mentioned you made the money, or had your spouse point out they made the money? I know the last time I had that conversation, years ago, I found a resume on the table the next day listing job responsibilities and a new salary requirement. My wife wasn’t happy when I told her our management team had to go another way, and we would have to terminate her contract due to cost reduction initiatives and were looking to H-B1 immigrants because labor rates were cheaper.
I can also recall several other instances where service technicians, IT specialists, and helpdesk specialists alike would make a grandiose proclamation that â€œsalesâ€ should quit doing this or that.
It’s not really as mystical as you might think. You really don’t even need to hire any fancy consultants either (but I am available to deliver this presentation in person for a very fair price plus travel expenses). All kidding aside, it begins by bridging the understanding between the divided parties.
You see, sales must understand they don’t sell a product or service. Your customer buys a perception – that yours is better, they need it, whatever. Your support organization helps to deliver this and reinforce the decision at every touch. While you may want to debate semantics of how you define sales, service, administrative, support, engineering, education, or whatever – you are cheapening the concept.
Sales seeks to create new opportunities by realizing a gap in a customer’s want or need existence.
Support does everything else to maintain and fulfill what was sold – essentially reselling what the customer purchased with every single touch, word, and whim.
Both sales and support coexist in a wonderful, symbiotic relationship. Those who recognize this simple relationship will not only survive, but thrive, while those who do not will simply slip into relegated ignorance.
Image courtesy of Hamed Saber
Ken Stewart’s website, ChangeForge, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology in an information-centric world. Ken serves on the board of the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA), an international industry organization seeking worldwide best practices for the managed print services industry, and writes a weekly column for MPS Insights. He is also the founder of Seeking the Son, and is always interested in connecting with you to see how he might help you.