The Social Side of IT–Be Nice To The Vendors & Sales People

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Today I was flooded with calls and requests to interview with various organizations. It is a great feeling to have many different options being made available to me as I continue my job hunt for the right role. As much as I would love to think that this happening as a result of my resume I would be fooling myself to believe that.

You need a good resume in this industry. The way that the job hunt game is played is that your resume must look impressive and standout from all of the others submitted by the competition. Your resume is all that a recruiter might have to look at in order to decide if you are a possible fit for the role.

The problem is that there are a lot of resumes out there that are nothing more than lies. An associate once asked to look at a copy of my resume so that he could “get ideas as to how to lay it out”. Sure enough after emailing my resume to him he opened it up on his laptop and started copying and pasting parts of my resume into a blank Word document right in front of me!

Note that I referred to that person as an associate. I used to refer to him as a friend, but when you blatantly start trying to take credit for my work I can no longer consider you a friend. The worst part about that situation? I had to go through my resume and re-word it just to make sure that no one would think that I copied “his” resume.

Good recruiters know that this is happening, and they do a lot of work to prevent the bogus resumes from bubbling up to the top. This is not enough though, because you cannot put your career’s fate into the hands of another person. It is your job to make sure that your name is known by others in this industry. Make it easier for the good recruiters to find you – build a network of quality people to surround yourself with.

“But how do I do that?”

First and foremost by doing good quality work that people will talk about. There are no shortcuts here. You have to deliver value to your current organization, customers, and any institution at which you might volunteer. You have to be the real deal and solve problems with technology if you want to be an IT professional.

Once you have those skills and those experiences though you need people to talk about them. Your customers will probably recognize your value internally, but you need external voices singing your praises as well. The people most likely to do that are the Value Added Re-sellers (VARs), sales people, consultants, and manufacturers that you meet.

Think about it. Steve in Accounting might tell your boss that you did a great job, but Jane who sells you your server hardware is going to talk about your accomplishments with other customers. Why? Because Jane wants to sell more servers, and if you did something absolutely awesome with her product that is a selling point for her to use. She might not mention you by name, but if you ever need a job Jane might be willing to put in a good word for you at one of her other clients and then hand your resume to their people.

Did you see the magic take place?

Jane not only handed your resume to the recruiter, or the hiring manager, or the C-level executive for your next potential employer, but she also endorsed you in person by doing so. Your resume on Monster is not going to have the same level of impact that a trusted partner physically delivering a resume or emailing a digital copy to potential employers will. Your resume will be looked at differently, because it was not just one of many resumes floating past a hiring manager. At that moment your resume is a promise being backed up by another person’s reputation and livelihood.

The reason for this is because Jane is not going to risk turning a good customer into an angry one just so that you can get a job! Remember that first you have to do good quality work that Jane sees as being worthy of telling others about. If you are a lousy customer doing nothing noticeable with her product Jane is not going to hand your resume out to anyone. Why is she going to tell someone who is giving her money to take a chance on a bad IT person? The answer is that she will not.

This is not altruism!

Your VARs and the sales people that you work with may genuinely like you, but they are also doing their jobs and trying to pay their own bills. If they have an established reputation with you and they help you find another job they are doing that with the hope that you will continue to work with them for purchases. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as long as they too continue to deliver something of real value to you and your new organization.

See that door opens in both directions: If you are a good IT person then Jane talks to others customers on your behalf, and if Jane is a good sales person you end up talking to other customers on Jane’s behalf. You are going to meet people at conferences, and at networking events, and when one of them asks what projects you are working on you might recommend Jane’s services if they are looking to do the same thing as well.

Conclusion – Good Sales People Help YOU! SO HELP THEM!

Do not fall for that ridiculous stereotype that all a sales person wants to do is get the most profit out of you on that one time deal. Now that anyone can check out the competition’s prices with nothing more than a Google search and a couple of phone calls that type of sales tactic does not work.

Sales people do a lot of above and beyond work in order to protect their reputations. Just like passing off a bad candidate as a superstar is bad business for them, so is trying to milk every penny out of a customer for a single deal! Once the money dries up, and companies decide to stop purchasing new equipment and services unless absolutely necessary the only thing that might get that sales person a new deal is their reputation. I know of sales people who left good paying gigs because they would not close a deal that might have hurt their reputation.

So when you have a good sales person that you work with help them out when you can. Share leads with them, call them at the start of a new project and let them know what you might need a deal on, or just hand their business cards out to other IT people that you meet. They will promote you if you earn it, and you should be doing the same for them.

You just have to be nice!

You do not need to buy a lot of stuff from the sales people that you work with. You should just be honest with them when they ask you to buy stuff, and you should be upfront with them when deals start looking bad. Do not waste their time if you have no interest in buying anything from them. You do not want your time wasted with sales pitches for products that you do not care about, and they do not want their time wasted pitching to customers who are not serious about buying their products.

Treat the sales people that you meet with respect. Do not be ungrateful if they buy you lunch or dinner. Do not expect them to buy you lunch or dinner in the first place. Just treat them with as much respect and dignity as you would any other professional, because sales is a hard profession!

If you do that and continue to deliver amazing results with your IT projects, then should you ever find yourself in a position similar to mine you will not be just one person looking for a job. Instead you will be one person who a small army of sales people is telling people to hire, and that is the kind of IT professional that you want to be.

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