Friday, May 02, 2014

You Will Be Amazed 

I am not a salesman. I am not an entrepreneur. I am not a closer or a finisher. I am however a conversationalist. Give me a chance and I'll talk your ear off. I'm a good wingman. I'll be your Yves Tanguay. I'll set you up and never take the shot for myself. In fact, I'm so averse to taking the shot I don't even recognize when it's mine to take. Unfortunately, I'm spending three days surrounded by shooters and it feels a little like being a seal who has just cut himself shaving while swimming in shark infested waters. Uncomfortable.

I'm not sure why I lack that killer instinct. I just get queasy about it. Even as I do these demos for an application I helped create I still want to make self deprecating jokes or if the questions veer away from the script I don't know how to get back into the demo except for an awkward non sequitur (“…so anyway…”). I'm not naturally obsequious. At least I hope I'm not. Maybe that's part of the problem. Not only am I not that guy, I don't even want to pretend to be that guy. Not even for a bit.

Thus I take it as a minor victory to get through the last three days and long periods of standing and waiting only to be interupted by bursts of launching into a pitch about something that will “amaze and astound you!” For the most part these on-the-floor demos have worked out well, with the occasional glitches you might expect for some demo software running 7-8 hours at a time and being put through its paces dozens of times.

The worst of it is just the standing around on your guard waiting to be approached. There were plenty of questions I couldn’t answer but I’d have to say really only one or two people who were distracted or disinterested and only one who just “didn’t get it”. The eloquent seven minute presentation that told the fairy book story of our path of discovery was often just cut to a three minute elevator pitch. I’m definitely not like these people who look like they have never worn anything other than a suit and tie. Their large wristwatches are paired with firm handshakes and jocular winks. What surprised me most of all was how so many of these guys looked and acted more like car salesmen. I don’t think any of the technology or design mattered at all. They’d sell water to fish if they had the chance. I suppose I thought technology was a little different in at least some aspects but that bubble has burst and that ship sailed. Which is what aggravates me most of all. Is this the reason why you see the products you see in stores or offered online? Because one goof in a suit sold some crap to another puffed up self-important goof in a suit? These aren’t “product-oriented” people. They are sales oriented.

In many ways, I am their absolute opposite. It’s hard to get interested in what a cable company might want. They want to squelch Net Neutrality. They want to rent you a piece of hardware for $10 a month that’s not worth a fraction of that compared to the high end device you make phone calls or send text messages on. They want to bundle lousy content with the best content to move product off the shelves. On the other hand, I’m an advocate for the user. I want to make your life easier, not more convoluted or full of obstacles. I’m here to help – you would be amazed how hard that is to sell.

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