The Problem with Spray-and-Pray Software Salespeople: Homework

By Sarah Lacy , written on June 27, 2012

From The News Desk

I've long been a believer that all the talk that software is now "bought" and not "sold" is wishful thinking. Other than Atlassian, most software companies eventually have to hire sales people if they want to build a real business. (We discussed this with the top management of Atlassian, Jive and Box here.)

But here's the thing: Those sales people have to be good.

I just got this pitch in my inbox, not moments after I posted for the second time that I'm trying to find a Yammer substitute for our virtual newsroom:

Hi Sarah,
I noticed that you are the CEO at your company, and that your company has a Yammer trial network.
Yammer is the pioneer and leader in Enterprise Social Networking. Our platform has been adopted by 85% of the Fortune 500 to drive team collaboration, boost employee engagement and transform the way business gets done.As the CEO of your company, I thought you would be the best person to reach out to in order to discuss Yammer in more detail. If you think it would be more appropriate for me to speak with someone else from your organization, please put me in touch.
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Kudos for noticing I am CEO of the company! You obviously did zero other work, or you would have found this story as the No. 1 Google result under "Sarah Lacy Yammer." Probably the very moment when I'm concerned about an acquisition and openly thinking of switching isn't the time to go after the wallet...
Also, we don't have a "trial" network. We have a free network. There's a subtle but important difference. As I recall, there was nothing on the sign up that says the program my company lives in all day long is merely a "trial." Trial indicates that we have to upgrade at some point or it goes away. It's a loaded word. It's either a sneaky way to convince a CEO he has to covert to a paying customer, or Yammer has major changes in store. (I'm guessing the former.)
I don't mean to beat up on this poor guy, but his timing just couldn't possibly have been worse. I realize with way lower deal sizes, the days of the elephant hunting salesman who takes you golfing is done. But would a five minute Google search be too much to ask?