Sun sales coverage - supporting the small guy/gal
By John Clingan on Dec 01, 2006
As usual, Jonathan posts a very thought-provoking entry. What I found equally interesting is the following comment left by Jason:
|I think of the biggest obstacles is your sales force. The feedback I consistently get from small companies (like what you want to target) is that if you're not a Fortune 500 company, it doesn't matter how much money you want to spend on Sun equipment -- it could be $2000, it could be $2mil, you are deemed unimportant and are completely ignored. I hope part of this focus includes fixing this attitude, as it also tends to generate a lasting negative impression, regardless of the quality of the products.|
Being in the sales force, that one sure strikes home for me. While Sun is a large corporation, we are not with unlimited resources. It is true that our direct sales force mostly focuses on named accounts. There is a problem with Sun covering small organizations directly, and it is not small budgets. It's not that we don't want to support them. Sun wants to create a marketplace that is larger than Sun itself. Doing so helps establish the longevity of Sun.
What makes the marketplace larger than Sun from the sales perspective is partners, ISVs and resellers. Sun has a sales support team that supports partners, ISVs and resellers, which in turn support "smaller companies". No matter how hard we try, Sun itself will not be able to cover all of the "small companies" out there and provide a high quality of service. That's one reason major reason why partners are key to Sun.
Sun does have relationships with some small companies. IMHO, most of those relationships begin with existing personal relationships with Sun employees. There are also cases where a company hits on an idea that is mutually beneficial between Sun and the "smaller" company. In a growing number of cases, relationships with "small companies" are being built through the open source projects we mutually participate in. "Small companies" are not, using Jason's word, unimportant. Small companies are extremely innovative. Two years ago, who had heard of MySpace? YouTube? The list goes on. It is one of the reasons we have created programs to start the relationships early.
That being said, Sun does want to understand where we are falling short in supporting "smaller customers" and will work with them to fill the gaps. It may mean finding the right partner. It may mean creating a new "program". It may be something completely new and innovative. The first step is to have the conversation. We're listening.