Services Sales through the Looking-Glass | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Lewis Carroll is famous for his novel, “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.” In this whimsical world, everything starts out as familiar things but, on examination, turn out to be nonsense. It puts me in mind of many service providers’ sales pitches.

Perhaps my favorite part of the Looking-Glass novel is Jabberwocky, a poem in which Carroll strung together nonsense words. When put together, they sound impressive and one wants to believe they tell a story. But as you can see in the verse below, the words are just nonsense.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

It’s like service providers’ sales teams that talk to potential clients about a transformation agenda and driving business value from IT. They throw in words such as “agility,” “flexibility” and “cloud.” Or phrases such as “consumerization of IT” and “as a service.” They even sprinkle in entire sentences such as “outsourcing will allow you to variabilize costs.”

These pitches sound wonderful and sound like there is deep thought associated with what the speaker says. But on examination, one finds the claims are largely nonsense. For instance, there is no variabilization of costs; it’s virtual, and there is little time to business value. And the supposedly agile environment is anything but agile.

It’s very easy to grasp for platitudes and read blogs and take the ideas without really understanding them.

So just like Alice, we find ourselves asking, “Which way should I go?” Well, like the Cheshire Cat says to Alice, “It all depends on where you want to get to.” Providers’ impressive-sounding presentations, on examination, are often just gobbledygook and attempts to intrigue the audience and get them to buy services. But they fall apart on close examination.

Successful sales depend upon a clear understanding about what the customer and provider will try to accomplish, how they will do it and the steps necessary to accomplish the goals. The best presentations use common, plain language to identify the issues and how to meet the goals.


Photo credit: Flickr

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