It was a little different than the last time but how I interact with clients will likely never change.
When you are working with people helping them to understand products and services, the only way to differentiate yourself from someone else is your reputation, your knowledge of your product and what you can understand of your potential customers' needs.
In our always on-line, Internet-driven world, sometimes in the heat of the the moment one's reputation can be ignored but only because few take the time to do any research before declaring their own knowledge superior to all those around them. In the real world when companies and organizations are making significant purchases, they will take the time to adequately research someone before counting on his or her advice.
However, it still amazes me that the Internet has created whole new opportunities for snake oil sales people. Because too many of us refuse to really understand the technology that underlies our lives, these people selling sub-par services continue to thrive. It is really sad when customers do not see through these folks who can only pretend to know what they are talking when asked a question.
There is a whole other level of experts who peddle advice to our governments and organizations around the country. Unfortunately governments often looking to make certain they make intelligent decisions end up hiring these folks whose only real experience is in convincing others to hire them. Most can never come up with a single concrete example to demonstrate that they have a clue about what they profess to know.
It is easy to talk about products and services. Taking the next step is much harder.
Actually implementing solutions and making certain that they work as you asserted they would is an entirely different thing. I will long remember the on-line Adobe sales person who sold me an upgrade copy of Dreamweaver and assured me that it would upgrade my previous version. As I downloaded the software, installed it, and discovered it would not work, the only comment she could muster was, "You will have to talk to support about that."
I have never sold anything in my life that I did understand or did not know how to use. To sell a product I have to personally believe it is the best product or service out there and one that I will use for my own needs if I am given the opportunity. I have never sold anything that I don't understand.
Like many sales people I have tried to always stand behind my recommendations even if they are for a product that I do not sell. If tell someone our product is wrong for them and it turns out that I made a good recommendation, I am likely to be consulted on the next purchase.
Perhaps of more interest to some is how being on the road has changed in eight years. After the hiatus in my twenty plus years on the road, I can say far fewer people are traveling to do sales. That is no surprise since being on the road is a very expensive proposition these days especially as products have gotten less expensive.
The Marriott hotels which once seemed like a second home have changed little with the exception that the beds have more pillows and the soap is in a fancier shape. Fortunately I knew enough to bring my own bottles of water since the price of a bottle of water has doubled to $4 per bottle.
In today's world if you are on the road, you are either working for a very large company or you are selling a very sophisticated product. The exception to the rule are those out there who are only peddling their knowledge. With those folks you just have to make certain their knowledge has some basis in reality. While Willie Loman lived on dreams, we have to be able to deliver our dreams if we want to stay in business in today's sophisticated world.
I did shine my leather crocs before leaving and I am riding on the dream that our company can make a difference in the availability of high quality broadband in the United States. If you are interested in the issue, you can read more at more my article, Just How Bad Is Your Internet Connection?
Not surprisingly I am even happier to get home than I was in the days when I traveled each week instead of once every few years. Spending time in a car is not nearly as much fun as spending your life by the water where we leave only footprints and take only pictures.