This week it’s Red Hat’s annual sales kickoff meeting (in a very wet piece of Spain about 1 hour south of Barcelona), what is always interesting is the difference between the sales focused teams and those in Consulting. It’s the second year that Consultants have been invited along to the SKO, with about 1000 people in total. Lessons learned from last year is to provide very technical, focused tracks for the Consultants and Architects and apart from some key note talks to keep this separate from the main sales tracks.

This therefore provides some interesting philosophical issues of note:

  1. communication from the aesthetes (sales) to consultants can be poor (and of course vice versa); no ones fault but what resonates with them doesn’t resonate with people with a different view of the working environment and with different values.
  2. that some people, in the services organisation need to look both ways, be understanding of the services side of the business (ie consultants, delivering projects etc) and the needs of sales and their own business drivers.

Issue 1 is interesting and is avoidable with preparation and an effort. Taking time out to understand your audience, their motivation and areas of concerns is not hard but means you have to listen and process. Not sure if Red Hat is atypical, but there is a lot of time spent talking to audiences that may not be listening; but this is usually because the talker hasn’t listened or understood the feedback already provided. Personally, I’m probably too quick judge and switch off if I think the speaker is wrong. They might be wrong, but I should take the time to listen, interpret what they say before jumping in and condemning it. I’m getting better at it, but still have a lot of work to do.

For those people between Sales and Services, with two masters there is duck/rabbit situation as discussed by Wittgenstein with Sales and Consultants viewing their roles differently; the Sales group who are going to see the RSM/SDM/TSM or Architect as someone to help them ‘sell’ solutions (by finding resources, writing documents etc) and the Consultants seeing them as the allocators of their time, managers and people who will ensure good delivery on a project. This is a difficult role and one where the person has to look at themselves subjectively, through the eyes of the person they are talkng to. Of course, the people providing the most pressure, through demands, escalation etc will obscure the judgement and this external view. Its a case where not necessarily the right thing is done, but the one that is the path of least effort for the individual.