Seven Reasons Salespeople Talk Too Much
John Henry Patterson: The Father of Professional Selling Part I

Are We Stuck Knee-Deep in Technology Muck?

This weekend I cleaned up my office and tried to create a system for storing and organizing my business technology tools. With extra time on my hands, I jotted down a few questions about the paradox of technological progress in the sales office.

  1. Who doesn’t love new technology, like a new computer? But what about the cables under the desk? With all the engineering brains in the world, why has no one come up with a system that doesn’t require crawling under your desk to connect a new device to the computer?
  2. Why are the most advanced products always on a waiting list? Like the iPad? Or the camera connection kit for the iPad?
  3. Why are the latest and greatest products (that people stand in line for) released with major glitches (like that iPhone 4 antenna problem). If Apple is smart enough to create a runaway success, why doesn’t it test its own products before the launch? Or why not team up with a carrier that doesn’t drop calls? Apple acts like the weak sales manager who just can’t fire that unproductive old timer.
  4. Why do the Apple USB iPhone and iPad adapters always disappear? I must have purchased six in the last year. I have one in my office, one at home, one in my car, left two in a hotel, and left another on a plane. They cost $5.20 wholesale and $29 in an Apple store.
  5. Why do software programmers design products that are “user friendly” yet build in so many features that even the vendor suggests turning on only a few essential functions to ensure user adoption?
  6. Why is it that the moment you want to download an important file from the cloud, your Internet connection slows down?
  7. Why, when a salesperson’s computer breaks down, does it turn into an automatic excuse for not making calls that day?
  8. Why does a laptop take two to three minutes to boot up, while an Apple iPad is ready to work the moment you turn it on?
  9. Why can’t we watch a Flash video on an iPhone or iPad? Is Apple driving people to PCs so they can watch Flash videos?
  10. Why do people become hypnotized by the hourglass on their computer? Can’t programmers replace that with a message that reads, “Stop staring! Go to work!”
  11. Why do so many people spend hours making an endless number of aesthetic refinements to their PPT presentations, while they spend no time at all checking their spelling?
  12. When salespeople have a problem with their computers or software, why do they prefer to solicit the advice of three or four co-workers (who know even less) before asking someone in their IT department?
  13. Why can’t computer makers install two hard disks in each desktop? At the end of each day, the computer could do an automatic backup. People are way too busy to back up their documents. Why not automate that task? It could be an easy up-sell.
  14. Why can’t notebook-computer makers offer two-sided screens – one side for the salesperson to see, the other side for the customer to watch from across the desk?
  15. What do salespeople do with the time saved by using all the time-saving applications? They look for more technology solutions and test-drive more applications. It seems that we are so busy looking for new ways to save time that we have no time left to do real work.
  16. Finally, how can we take advantage of the increased productivity that technology seems to offer without getting stuck in technology muck? It seems that the only way to enjoy the time-saving advantages of technology is to turn it off and go for a walk.

Update: Last night I updated my iPhone (3GS model) software to the latest version 4.0. As a result, the bluetooth connection with my BMW no longer worked. It worked perfectly fine with the old software. I tried for 20 min to pair the phone with the car, without success. Called BMW and the service manager said that the latest iPhone 4.0 software does not allow the phone to connect with the car. I was also told, that there is a way to pair the phone by following a certain code sequence, however there are two problems with that a) it voids the BMW computer warranty - and that computer costs $2,300 and b) the pairing is not reliable, the connection is likely to drop several times a day. When will we get technology that works for us, instead of wasting time figuring out why technology has quit working for us?


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Steve Watts

This may be more serious of an answer than you're looking for, but in doing research as part of my graduate studies, the answer is partially that any time a new technology inserts itself into societal mainstream, we as a society adjust the paradigm of how we work to accommodate its inherent needs.

The technology isn't just "the technology," it's an entire paradigm of actions: the setup, support, connections to other technology, the social norms surrounding the technology (how soon before people in movie theaters bring their iPads to watch a DIFFERENT movie than the one they're sitting in?).

As a culture we're socialized to believe that any new technology invention automatically means that it's both necessary, proper, and useful--whether the technology has any real merit or not for our particular use conditions.

I'm getting long winded here, but there's an old saying by media theorist Marshall McLuhan that goes "the medium is the message." The medium/technology carries and transmits "messages," but it itself also has its own social "message" of how we are expected to use and appropriate it.

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