Should A Computer Salesman Also Be A Technician?

The job of a salesman is to sell something. Salesmen that are not skilled in the art of selling end up not making any sales. This is true whether the salesman is selling cars, white goods, or computers. Car salesmen are not required to be motor mechanics so why should we expect computer salesmen to also be skilled computer technicians?

Whenever something goes wrong with a car while it is under warranty we take it back to the car sales yard and they get their motor mechanics to fix it. A computer store often is a one or two person concerned so if they were to employ a technician to fix the problems when they do arise then there are fewer people doing the selling, sales fall, and prices have to go up to compensate. Many larger computer stores do employ technicians and their prices as you would expect are often higher than the discount one and two man concerns.

With a smaller concern, the salesmen do have to double as technicians or they run into real trouble when something stops functioning properly on a computer they recently sold. Another consideration is that there are only a few slightly different models of car but every computer is unique. Even two computers of identical hardware configuration typically have some differences in the software installed on them. With computers, even the order in which various software is installed can affect the functioning of the computer. Install software product A before software product B and everything runs fine. Install software product B first and then when product A gets installed installed files get overwritten and the system totally screws up.

The real problem is that salesmen do not make good technicians. They are very different skills so if someone is good at one, they are usually lousy at the other. I (for example) make an extremely poor salesman.

Unfortunately, another effect of salesmen not being technicians is that many of them do not even understand the terminology associated with the product they are trying to sell. This is all very well for standard product ranges such as cars (which only have a few optional extras) but computers literally have millions of possible variations that you may wish to order. If the salesman does not understand what these are then how can he make the sale. Some stores get around this problem by selling computers like a commodity item, you either buy one of the standard variants or you go elsewhere. They lose sales that way when their standard versions do not meet your requirements.

I was at a PC show a few years ago. On one of the stands was a glass case containing three motherboards. That was the entire content of the stand. They were not actually selling anything at the show, they were just displaying these three motherboards. I asked the guy on the stand if one of the motherboards had bus-mastering. He could not answer the question because he did not know what bus-mastering was. He was not there to sell anything but he still managed to lose his company a potential future sale. Made me wonder what exactly he was there for.

I do not have a solution to this issue and I doubt that anyone else does. The situation has not resolved itself as computers have become more standardized, it has just evolved. Now there are large numbers of people who buy a stock standard computer to run stock standard software to perform a few simple tasks that only use a small fraction of the capacity of the cheapest available computer being talked into buying a much more expensive computer by the salesman because he and they do not know any better.

Source by Stephen Chapman

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