It's pretty difficult to stump my left-field imagination these days but my cartoonist put me to the test last week with his latest submission below. What are we dealing with here?
Internet security, the phenomenon that customers are scared stupid about but have no idea what's involved until their business has gone up in smoke, thanks to some prepubescent hacker's handiwork.
Then there's e-commerce, the on-line trading nirvana that every vendor and its dog has been remodelling its business on over the past two years without so much as a "great idea" slap on the back from customers.
I figure the reason why customers find network security about as exciting as watching paint dry is exactly that - it's such a boring concept to sell. As a reseller, the only time you get the chance to say "I told you so" is when it's too late.
You'd have to have 5 gazillion customers to give you a reason to open the doors each morning, given that the likelihood of a customer's network going down is not all that high.
A similar argument could be made about e-commerce. Yeah, yeah, I've heard all about the promises that your customers' businesses will never be the same, and that e-commerce is the best thing to happen since the Melissa virus!
But how hard is it to sell a concept to a customer under the proviso that they have to actually think about how it will affect the business? I suppose that's why I'm a cynical, bastard journo and you guys are the salespeople. When was the last time one of your customers said, "Gee that e-commerce solution you've got sounds real cool. Any chance you could stick it in the Cortina so that I could hook up to the TAB for race 5 at Randwick this arvo?"
How much patience do you guys have? Sure your customers can spew out the greatest uses for e-commerce in their organisations, but they don't want to sit down and analyse just why they really need them.
And I know that, as salespeople, you're ready to inundate them with those gorgeous little PowerPoint presentations, chock-full of amazing examples of how an e-commerce solution worked for the guy down the road, who just happens to be a competitor.
But once again, it's a matter of trying to sell the intrinsic benefits of new technologies like e-commerce and network security to customers who really have no idea what you're on about.
In many ways I think being a fashion engineer at Bras & Things would be sooo much more rewarding. Himbo customer walks in, says he's looking for some sexy lingerie for the missus.
You "advise" him that the fire-engine red frilly G-string with matching suspenders and bustier set would look sensational. Himbo forks out the plastic and walks away a happy customer.
Wait a minute! I didn't know Bras & Things have launched a reseller arm!