Why You Don't Get Advice from Vendors



  • Because they are sales people, not technical people, and they are only paid to sell you something. So if you ask their technical advice, this is the best that they can do....

    Taylor Swift Picking Ass Sprinkling Crowd



  • In other news, high-waisted short-shorts are a bad idea.



  • @Katie said:

    In other news, high-waisted short-shorts are a bad idea.

    Seriously, those are hideous.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Katie said:

    In other news, high-waisted short-shorts are a bad idea.

    Seriously, those are hideous.

    Hahaha I am surprised when i saw the high-waisted short-shorts



  • Not sure how serious the thread title is, but getting advice from vendors is a good thing to do, not a bad thing.



  • @Carnival-Boy If by "good thing" you mean insane, such as asking a automobile mechanic, "what repairs do you want tot do on my car? Feel free, anything s money is clearly not a concern."

    Do question them for service clarity, claim specificity, and provide documentation for offers, products, and services? Yes, can be a starting point for vetting.



  • That's exactly what I do with my car mechanic. I know nothing about cars and he's been looking after mine for over ten years and it's never gone wrong and runs as well as when I first got it.

    The sales guys for the company I work for have years of experience. One of them has been working in our industry for over 50 years! I think they do an awesome job in helping our customers, and potential customers, get the right products. Yes, they want to sell our product, and they're not going to give advice on our competitors' products, but ultimately "selling" is about developing good, strong long-term relationships within the supply chain. You get that right first, and then worry about how to monetize those relationships.

    Ultimately, it depends on the product, the vendor and the salesmen. But we're not box-shifters here and we've no interest in selling product that isn't right for the customer/client. Our strong reputation within our industry depends on good salesmen giving good advice and we'd do nothing to risk tarnishing that reputation.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    Not sure how serious the thread title is, but getting advice from vendors is a good thing to do, not a bad thing.

    Probably the most important advice that I give to IT pros. Vendors should never be engaged until decisions are made, sales people are not consultants or advisers, they are directly paid to act against your interests.

    http://www.smbitjournal.com/2011/07/never-get-advice-from-a-reseller-or-vendor/



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    That's exactly what I do with my car mechanic. I know nothing about cars and he's been looking after mine for over ten years and it's never gone wrong and runs as well as when I first got it.

    A mechanic is a tech, not a vendor, though. Few vendors provide techs and those that do normally do so either only to provide warranty support (good) or to be sales people (bad.) In the case of IT, we are the mechanics (IT Pros), the vendors pretty much only have the salespeople.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    Probably the most important advice that I give to IT pros. Vendors should never be engaged until decisions are made, sales people are not consultants or advisers, they are directly paid to act against your interests.

    http://www.smbitjournal.com/2011/07/never-get-advice-from-a-reseller-or-vendor/

    Well, I strongly disagree. Some sales people are like that, but far from all are.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    Well, I strongly disagree. Some sales people are like that, but far from all are.

    Even if they are not "like that", they are still sales people. They are still paid to sell. You are not paying for advice, they are paid to give you advice, very different things. Even a sales person who doesn't care about the money, even one attempting to be altruistic, is still a salesperson, not an engineer. But why is someone a salesperson if they don't care about the money? It's a money-motivated position, more than any other.

    But even in a perfect world, the sales person lacks the engineering background, the business background and the broad industry options. They are the sales people for a single vendor. That means you've limited your options way too much. Let's take Dell as an example. If you go to Dell and by a miracle get a sales person who doesn't care about commission, keeping his job or following the sales department practices and doesn't recommend high margin items like SANs and blades. Let's say he actually tries to find the best Dell to meet your needs.... he is still finding the best Dell product to meet your needs. What if you really would be better off with an AIX server or a Solaris on Sparc system or something else that Dell doesn't offer? What you get is advice, but constrained advice. Still dangerous, despite his good intentions.



  • Sales people are not IT people and not consultants. That's really the bottom line. Their career, their skills, their compensation... are not based on being capable of nor of actually delivering advice. That isn't their job nor their field. In reality, asking advice from a sales person is really quite random. You wouldn't ask your grocer, baker or doctor for computer, business or architecture advice yet all of those people also aren't techs but none of them are directly paid to not give you the best advice, so in theory, they'd all be no worse and probably better.



  • Being altruistic is very hard for a sales person because.... doing the right thing for the customer and the right thing for their employer are often at odds. They have a job and a commitment (and a relationship) with their employer for whom they have been hired to make sales. If there is a salesperson out there who will go outside the bounds of that relationship to "do the right thing" for a customer, become an expert in the tech and business space, give broad advice.... not only is it not in their own self interest nor not in the accepted bounds of the relationship (both parties understand that he is a salesperson and what his role is, there is nothing wrong or unethical about pushing his products because that is the accepted relationship) but it is in direct violation of the relationship with the employer. Being altruistic with a customer makes them unethical with their employer - it's a place where being the "good guy" cannot be universal.



  • So do you get advice from "consultants" who are partnering with vendors? I feel attracted to this conversation like a suicidal moth to a flame.



  • I've seen engineers (but not sales people) from vendors be pretty good. Like Drobo, their guys used to be great (but they all got canned - so you can see what Drobo thought of them) and they would talk about the strengths of their product, talk about where it was great... and if potential customers asked them if, for example, it was good to use with virtualization, they would directly tell you that no, it was not and you should look somewhere else. But they wouldn't offer advice on other products or approaches. They were just honest about where their skillset was (knowing their own products) and not willing to push a sale on someone where the product would be bad. That's what a great salesperson is like. Promotes their products or services where they make sense, offers them but doesn't promote them when they don't make sense and is honest about shortcomings and caveats - and, of course, either helps navigate the company's products or gets resources that do.

    But that's where great salespeople end. Going past that point means either pushing the salesperson to areas of questionable ethics (being paid to act against the vendor's interests) or working for free to give advice in an area that isn't even what their career is. A Drobo sales engineer might know a lot of storage, but is not, by career, an expert on knowing all of the options in architecture and products that might apply where their own products do not. At that point, you are getting advice from a completely random third party that the only sure facts you know are that 1) their career is not in the area you are asking for advice so you have no reason to think that they have knowledge or experience in this area, 2) they are acting in the disinterest of the person paying them which means you should question their ethics and 3) they are getting paid to tell you something else, so all advice should be suspect.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    You wouldn't ask your grocer, baker or doctor for computer, business or architecture advice

    No, but I might ask my baker for advice on the best loaf for my needs. He isn't going to tell me that the best loaf is the one that his competitor sells down the road, but apart from that I expect him to give me good advice. He may not actually have baked the bread himself, but he's been working in the baking industry all his life and has learnt a thing or two about bread during that time.

    In my company, as I mentioned above, one salesman has been working here for over 50 years. He may just be a salesman in your eyes, but you don't spend 50 years within our industry talking to hundreds of different clients, without reaching a reasonable level of technical competence. Simply dividing people into two piles - one marked "engineer" and one marked "salesman" is just too simplistic to be helpful. A lot of salesmen are technical, and vice versa. A friend of mine worked for years as a brilliant programmer, but now works in sales because he's also great with customers.



  • @ken said:

    So do you get advice from "consultants" who are partnering with vendors? I feel attracted to this conversation like a suicidal moth to a flame.

    Partnered? Or resellers. Two very different things.

    NTG refused to partner with Dell until Dell made a special "non-reseller" partnership with us so that we could get the internal resources of Dell just like resellers can (like we already had with HP). Dell did and now we are great partners. But we don't resell. If you want Dell, we recommend either going to directly to Dell or, since we are paid to consult not to sell, we can help to find a local reseller.

    There is a reason that NTG doesn't resell, we are consultants. We would find it unethical to both consult and resell. The money is reselling is so big that we'd either always do the wrong thing or always act in our own disinterest. One cannot serve two masters. We have a lot of partnerships but we don't resell. We've had some that only work in a reselling mode and we've dropped them as we don't work that way.

    (Note: That's not 100% true, NTG does resell a couple isolated, hosted services such as Office 365, Rackspace and Google Apps. We do this because there is no way to have the necessary resources for our customers needs without doing so. So to counteract the problems encountered with being a reseller, we work with every major vendor that provides enterprise class services in that category so that we can be as neutral as possible - we make money but very little and essentially equal regardless of which vendor customers choose.)



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    No, but I might ask my baker for advice on the best loaf for my needs. He isn't going to tell me that the best loaf is the one that his competitor sells down the road, but apart from that I expect him to give me good advice. He may not actually have baked the bread himself, but he's been working in the baking industry all his life and has learnt a thing or two about bread during that time.

    Right, but you are probably really, really good at picking bread down to a pretty reasonable level. Buying a loaf of bread doesn't have far reaching impact on your business plan and architecture. You won't go to your baker and ask about bread advice and have accidentally needed meat or veggies and not realized it. You won't go to a cake shop and have actually needed sandwich bread. And you need bread no matter what, so the baker has no business to lose by telling you to get veggies and cheese for your sandwich. It's not a similar relationship.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    Buying a loaf of bread doesn't have far reaching impact on your business plan and architecture.

    It has a far reaching impact on my stomach, which is way more important than any business plan.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    In my company, as I mentioned above, one salesman has been working here for over 50 years. He may just be a salesman in your eyes, but you don't spend 50 years within our industry talking to hundreds of different clients, without reaching a reasonable level of technical competence. Simply dividing people into two piles - one marked "engineer" and one marked "salesman" is just too simplistic to be helpful. A lot of salesmen are technical, and vice versa. A friend of mine worked for years as a brilliant programmer, but now works in sales because he's also great with customers.

    Sure, some people have crossover skills. I have all kinds of bizarre skills that are not reflected in my current job - like managing a restaurant, playing classical guitar, etc. But they are random and not something you should count on. Being a great programmer and switching to sales doesn't mean that you lose programming skills but it does mean that you might be going out of touch and, more importantly, unless he is selling a product for programmers, being a great programmer doesn't mean you bring any insight into IT needs, or business needs, or competitor needs, or large scale planning needs to the customers.

    Lots of salespeople and engineers crossover. But I think you are confusing "having skills" or "having experience" with taking the time to know the competition, taking the time to know the customer, being willing to send them to a completely different solution that you can't meet. Do you truly believe that your storage vendor will turn down a $50K sale to tell you that you don't actually need any storage? Will they tell you that the competitor's product cost less and is more reliable? Will they tell you that you could do the same thing, better, in software without spending a fraction as much? Will they tell you that new products are expected soon and that you should wait rather than buying today (and risk being stuck with old stock and possibly losing the sale?)

    Maybe, but I doubt it. Find me that sales person, who really doesn't care about commission and is willing to put in all of the work to be a consultant without being paid to do so and then works for negative money to give out that advice. If the salesperson wanted to be an engineer, why are they in sales? An engineer gets paid to do what we describe here, a sales person is paid not to. The engineer is paid to have these skills, the salesperson is paid to have other skills.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    Buying a loaf of bread doesn't have far reaching impact on your business plan and architecture.

    It has a far reaching impact on my stomach, which is way more important than any business plan.

    But you already know what you want when you go into the bakery. Can you really claim to have not decided on bread first?

    That's really the underlying point. If you go to vendor A, you may tell yourself that you are looking for broad advice, but both you (subconsciously) and that vendor have an unspoken understanding that you've already decided on their products. Many of your decisions are already made. Same with the baker, he knows that it is bread that you want. Maybe you don't know if it is Italian or marbled rye, but you've chose the general product (bread) and the place (this one.) You aren't going to go across town to find another baker. You might engage two or three technology vendors, but you know that each relationship is just for their own products and none of them are going to have you step back and rethink being anything at all or going a completely different direction.



  • "Because they are sales people, not technical people, and they are only paid to sell you something. So if you ask their technical advice, this is the best that they can do...."
    The idea that a vendor company only consists of Sales people is ridiculous. Does Red Hat, Microsoft and a host of other vendors, simply consist of sales people?



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    I think you are confusing "having skills" or "having experience" with taking the time to know the competition, taking the time to know the customer, being willing to send them to a completely different solution that you can't meet.

    I'm not confusing anything.

    If you change the thread title from "Why You Don't Get Advice from Vendors" to "Why you should maintain a healthy scepticism about advice you get from vendors, why you should engage with multiple vendors and why should verify all vendor advice with your own independent research" then I agree with you completely.

    Mostly you are just pointing out all the weaknesses and caveats of vendor advice. That's all to the good, but that is not the same thing as saying you should never get advice from a vendor. Getting advice from a vendor is a great way to learn and a great way to help source new products and solutions. I'd advise all IT pros to get as much advice as possible from as many people as possible - and that includes, but is not limited to, vendors.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    I think you are confusing "having skills" or "having experience" with taking the time to know the competition, taking the time to know the customer, being willing to send them to a completely different solution that you can't meet.

    I'm not confusing anything.

    If you change the thread title from "Why You Don't Get Advice from Vendors" to "Why you should maintain a healthy scepticism about advice you get from vendors, why you should engage with multiple vendors and why should verify all vendor advice with your own independent research" then I agree with you completely.

    Mostly you are just pointing out all the weaknesses and caveats of vendor advice. That's all to the good, but that is not the same thing as saying you should never get advice from a vendor. Getting advice from a vendor is a great way to learn and a great way to help source new products and solutions. I'd advise all IT pros to get as much advice as possible from as many people as possible - and that includes, but is not limited to, vendors.

    No it is exactly the same. You should never get advice from a vendor. Our company works the same as NTG, we are consultants. We refuse to become resellers for any product because that will taint our advice. This is why I do not identify our company as a MSP anymore, because most MSP companies are reselling something. This means they are not actually giving you unbiased advice. They will be giving you advice they makes their company more money.

    True, that most will still work on anything, but they will always be pushing Dell over HP or something similar.