And echoes with the sound of salesmen…

Yeah yeah… I probably sound like I’m on some kind of guy-rag lately. But I feel like ranting, so ranting is what I will do ;-)

At work some of us got into a random product-ideas-sales-suggestions discussion over email, passing around the @everyone list. I started writing a quick reply with a few ideas, and somehow it ended up turning into a fullpage rant on salesmen.

I think it had something to do with all the sales douches that kept calling and pestering me all day.

One of them, who I’d met at the RTECC last week*, rang me to talk about an FPGA project I mentioned that “may” be in the pipeline, depending whether or not we get awarded the contract. He tried to cajole a contact email address out of me, which I rather firmly declined, reiterating that “dude, I don’t even know if this project exists or not yet. How about, give me your phone number, and I’ll call you up when or if we have anything to do along those lines.” Sure enough, not 5 minutes later, I get an email (presumably, having no luck coaxing one out of me directly, hunted around on our website) from this same tool wanting to set up a meeting to discuss our “application requirements” for the aforementioned non-existent project. I briefly considered melting his socks with a reply of the type likely to melt socks, but I had shit to do, and had enough of my time wasted already.

On our own side we (meaning not me – DM and a few other guys) just got this whole online-ordering thing set up, which will be great. I don’t know about the average joe, but when I see a product listed somewhere with “$Call” after it, that says to me either

  • it’s so new that they don’t even know what to charge for it yet (meaning both “sales price has no correlation whatsoever to what it actually costs to make” and “bleeding-edge, expect bugs”)
  • it’s a not-yet-existing product, which means either in-development, or “there’s no such product, we just stuck a feeler out to estimate the market for this”
  • “if they make you ask, you don’t wanna know” – pricing may be determined in part by how interested I sound on the phone.

At any rate, what it means is I’m going to waste the next 20min. haggling with the slimy sales douche on the other end of the line trying to justify the price and/or upsell me to the Super Duper version and 3e+08 accessories. I’d go out on a limb and say that most technical folk, when they commit to ordering something, already have a pretty good idea of what they want, and want to get it done with and get back to what they were doing. For me, that’s why I dread that call to the Sales Douche. I’m busy. I want to order it and get back to getting my shit done. Meanwhile, the Sales Douche starts out by trying to wheedle out the sensitive details of my intended application (hey dude, sign an NDA and we’ll talk), how many of my end product I intend to sell** and when (I don’t know, it doesn’t exist yet), blah blah blah. He wants to “talk about it” exhaustively first, like some kind of pre-purchase marriage counselor: “Do you, design engineer, take this ADC, to sample and hold, in sickness and in health, ’til the Nyquist frequency do you part?” He wants to be my buddy, he wants to add me to his mailing list, he wants to know if there are any other engineers in the building he can call and harass, and what are their phone numbers?

After enough lying about the application, quantities, etc. and all that runaround, I finally get some parts ordered. But I know it doesn’t end there, oh no. Now begins the year+ of callbacks, that same horny sales douche wanting to know if this week is the week I’m going to be ready to order those 10,000 units.

On the bright side, I’m getting my very own intern next week. OK, so that means taking a bunch of time off my own projects to babysit mentor the new guy, but maybe I can also task him with answering my phone and telling sales douches to piss off. (Only kidding folks. We’re also going to have him stripping wires.)

* I went for the educational stuff – e.g. there was a great talk on CAN-bus/CANopen by esd electronics (these guys were purely informational, not trying to hawk something – my hat’s off) – but killed time in between by wandering around the exhibitors’ booths. Man, you wouldn’t believe these guys, jumping down your throat before you’d even had time to scan enough of the poster behind them to figure out what their company does. I think now I know the feeling a lone Hot Chick gets in a roomful of horny adolescent males.

** 10,000. Always 10,000. If s/he ever finds out the 5 samples I’m buying are really all I need, since we’re only building 3 prototypes for in-lab use or a one-off experiment, I’m probably not even going to finish the sentence before the phone clicks in my ear. All right, exaggerating…but only slightly ;-)

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