Stop selling used cars

Today, I had a rare insight into the customer experience of someone trying to purchase a moderately sized managed hosting installation. Somehow in the many years that have passed since I first entered this space I've never stopped to think about how grueling the sales experience must be to have to do that shopping. Most every organization I've worked at that had a sales staff incentives them on the amount of hosting they sell. This makes sense because you want to reward sales people that generate revenue. However many of the sales compensation structures I've seen place little or no emphasis on the long term customer satisfaction and deep relationship developed by selling a customer the RIGHT solution.

People purchasing managed hosting often do so because they want to offload some of the responsibility of building, maintaining or managing their infrastructure. This is the way that many hosting vendors try to position themselves to fill for customers. So why does the initial experience so often begin with someone who doesn't have your long-term best interest as his or her primary motivator?

In many times where I've filled a pre-sales capacity for a customer I've built a deep relationship with that customer that spanned several roles in the company for me and the entire lifetime of their account. As an industry, we need to figure out how we can make that the normal experience, rather than a situation where people sometimes suffer through the sales process in the hopes that the operations experience and the technology they come out with are worth the headache.