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It’s Always Good If the Customer Is Arguing

It’s Always Good If the Customer Is Arguing
by Paul McLellan on 07-04-2014 at 2:41 am

 I’ve never been in sales. Never “carried a bag”. But I have run sales forces and I have spent a lot of time in marketing, guiding sales forces. Well, herding cats comes to mind, but cats don’t have commission plans. Engineers say sales people are emotional, and ego-driven, but change their commission plans and sales people turn on a dime. They reschedule their meetings for the following week. Tell an engineer their baby project is killed and they will grieve for weeks. It is engineers who are emotional not sales people. I’ve managed both, more on the engineering side probably, being an engineer by background.

So one thing I have noticed is that new salespeople complain that there is a product or engineering problem when the customer is pushing back. Of course, if it is an existing customer complaining about some problem with a tool the purchased then it can be a genuine problem. EDA is such a fast churning industry that no tool is ready for release…when it has to be released. It has never seen good test data. When FinFETs came along, how much FinFET test data was available for EDA companies to test their stuff on. None, would be a pretty good answer. Not much maybe closer to the truth. CTO’s of semiconductor companies used to tell me when I worked at Cadence that we should have better software quality and I told them to use the prior release. It was pretty solid. Of course they couldn’t for the current process node, but the reality in EDA is that the software was developed, like, yesterday. It won’t be stable until a lot of designs have been run through. The choice is wait (which some people can) for other people to run all those designs through, or live with the instability that goes with being one of those early guys through. But they argue about the issues all the time with their salespeople.

So I tell members of the sales team that it is always good when the customer is arguing. After all, think of the last time some salesperson tried to sell you solar panels, or a swimming pool. If you were not interested you would shut up and try and get them to go away. If you were, then you would say that the price was too high, or the pool was the wrong size. It’s always good if the customer is arguing.

It is not restricted to leading edge stuff, but there seems to be more argument there because it gets the most visibility. But ultimately IC design is a strange ecosystem to sell into. As a friend once said to me, EDA is the “only environment that when you try and sell them a car they take the cylinder-head off and check the valve timing.” If that isn’t arguing then I don’t know what is. So when they make the effort to “check the valve timing” then it is not a criticism of the engine/tool but a sign that they care enough to check, they are interested.

But it’s always good if the customer is arguing!

More articles by Paul McLellan…

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