The interaction between the sales department and the IT department can be a very interesting thing. A lot of it relates to how you view the word “no.”
In IT, when we say “no,” we usually have a really good reason. The usual suspects for saying “no” are:
- Something is going to fail
- It won’t do what you want
- It will be ridiculously expensive
- It will be an horrendous amount of work for everyone.
I don’t want to say “no,” but when I do, I really mean it. I’m not being capricious, rash, or nasty (most of the time.) I have thought about it or have enough direct experience that I know what will happen. “No” is a conclusion , a result of rational and reasoned thought. That’s a lot of what IT folks get paid for.It has been my experience with better salespeople that “no” is the place where negotiations start. In their line of business, they are trained to overcome the “no” to get to where they think they need to be.
Thinking about it a little further, it is not only salespeople, but sometimes lawyers and anyone who have read too many books on the art of the deal or negotiations. Those folks seem to cluster in the sales department more than other areas, but they can exist in almost any department.
The IT department comes off as being hard-nose blankety-blanks who always get in the way of progress and the salespeople come off as selfish, not listening or not understanding basic English. Neither is true, but it certainly feels true to both sides.
I think part of the issue is also how you view decisions and opinions. When asked a question or for an opinion regarding a subject for which I am responsible, I take it very seriously. It may not take a lot of time, but the answer you get from me will be my best effort to make what you want happen to happen in the best possible way. Sometimes, given certain restraints, you are better off not doing it the way it was presented.
When the negotiations over “no” start, I can get to the point where I feel that you asked for my somewhat expert opinion, I gave it to you, and the negotiations are not adding any new information that will change my mind. You asked for my opinion, I gave it. Normally, you are not going to be able to negotiate me off of a technical concern. If you want to overrule me, that’s OK too. I understand that I am not going to win every battle. Just don’t ever think you are going to win the technical argument. When I get overruled over a “no”, that’s usually not fun, because of the reasons for “no” outlined above. I just have to change the parameters to mitigate the damage or live with consequences. That’s life. It’s OK.
It took me the longest time to understand what was happening. Now that I do, I try to remember what “no” means. That’s something I thought I learned when I was about 2 or 3. Live and learn, I guess. TomOriginally written on 25 June 2007, heavily modified 26 June 2007, 7:00am PDT