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June 27, 2005

Comments

Frank,

In a way I am very relieved to read your advice to "get out of telecomm." I recently started in Telecom sales and have been very frustrated. While we have great products and services the marketplace just does not care about anything but price. In addition the "cold call" mentality is very strong and the sales forces results are showing it. Over 50% of the sales force is at less than 25% of quota. And this includes many experienced reps. Thank you for being honest.

Yea man - cold calling is a long haul. But you have to start somewhere.

This sounds very much like the competitive telecom industry where I worked for several years. It's slide has paralleled that of IT, possibly even worse depending on what sort of telecommunications company it happens to be.

When telecom reps contact me because they're at their wits end and in desperate need of sales advice, my advice is simply "get out of telecom." It's sad but this isn't 1997 anymore when it was booming, and I'd rather be honest with someone. After all the best sales advice in the world won't help sell a product that simply isn't wanted or needed.

Leon,

The IT Contract Market Place has changed a little bit, but not much.

I have been on the rollercoaster since just before the big rush in the late 90's, through the crash in 2000, then the "nail in the coffin" of September 11th, and, truthfully, we have not experienced any significant growth since then.

Are we doing better? Yes, better than two years ago. However, the market is hard. Bitter hard, and we have tried everything, but sooner or later, the unspoken reality settled in that Everything has Changed. We cannot measure ourselves by the years we had in 98 and 99.

After the crash we would beat people up, and beat ourselves up. All the while, powered by the ridiculous bromides of "consultants" and industry magazines who would run articles saying, "Who Says It Is a Down Market?" These articles would contain anecdotes of "thriving reps," but never the names of these phantom "big-billers", or even interviews with them or specifics or anything useful.

We brought in consultants, begging them, "Tell us what to do." And we would do it, all of it, to the letter: implementing changes, making the prescribed number of calls, working off scripts and "word-tracs."

When none if it would work, we would call the consultant, "What is Going On?" "Help us." Slowly, their return calls would be more and more delayed, until finally, we just wouldn't hear from them.

Finally, the trade papers started to change their tune from "What down market?" to "How to stay up in a down market." to "How to sell your business in a down market!" to "Is this the worst we have ever seen?" All the time peppered with little articles about how the end of the crisis is near, but the goalposts keep moving further back, and like Yossarian's bomber squadron, the mission count keeps rising.


I don’t know if this is strictly relevant, but reading this article seemed to bring back memories. I’m in the UK. I used to work in IT contract recruitment. We had a ‘power hour’ every day where we were expected to do a cold call blitz. That’s right – It got absolutely nowhere! The other way we were expected to get leads was by calling candidates and saying things like “tell me where your CV (resume) has gone forward to/ you’ve had interviews because I don’t want to send you to the same place” If the candidate was naive enough to say then this was followed up with “Oh Hewlett Packard, Robert Davis must have interviewed you(or any other made up name)” to which the candidate would replied “No it was Howard McDonald”. Our next call would obviously be to Howard McDonald in Hewlett Packard to offer a contractor with more skills or at a better rate than the one who’d just given us the lead. In other words we were trained to get leads by very underhand methods. Furthermore, just like cold calling, time worked against us. There was only so many calls we could make in a day, only a proportion of these would result in a contractor who had interviewed recently and only a small proportion of these were not wise to these methods.

Do you think there is a more ethical and effective way of working in this industry? I’m not in it any more but would get back if it could be done better.

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