May 2009
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CMS Drug Dealers at Internet World

He cocked his rifle
And began to shout,
“You’re that travelin’ salesman
That I have heard about.”

I work in a very cosmopolitan area of London. Our office is on Brick Lane , which is known for its curry houses, vibrant night life, art, fashion and live music. If I work late or have a couple of brews after work, it isn’t uncommon for someone dodgy to sneak up on me and say something like “I got some ‘ash man“, “Yo, want some pure bomb?“, “I have some LSD, wanna trip?” or “Dude, you wanna fly?“.

But I find all this far less annoying than the advances I repeatedly got at Internet World . “Pssst. Do you do Web Content Management?“. I’m not even sure I know what that means. Do I *do* content management? It’s always an annoying salesman sidling up to me and popping some flyer into my hand. Most of the time I just smile and walk on by but every now and again I stop of a chat and wish I hasn’t.

Now, I’m not into drugs. Drugs are bad. But at least the dealers know their products. These CMS Flyer guys seem to have very superficial (if any) understanding of their product, and always seem to be disappointed when it turns out I’m from a potential partner, not a potential customer with a cheque book. Some stands have girls in hot pants or tinkerbell outfits that look pretty, smile, give you a flyer and point you to their stand. But at least they don’t also start babbling about their products. The CMS Salesman say things that they don’t really understand like “Oh yes, it supports <something> perfectly”. Their products do everything. And they like to sell hard. And watch out for the licensing models that try to get you hooked first, then fleece you when you’re dependent on the “product”.

Annyoing Salesman

It seems that the CMS vendor stands have two different kind of salesman. They have the people that really know their stuff and are extremely interesting to talk to. These guys are pretty honest, and I can really engage with them and share war stories from the past. These are the guys I enjoying sharing a beer with, and all vendors have a few of them. They sell indirectly. But then there are the walking commission calculators that don’t seem to know much about their products or their industry at all. They might as well be selling cars or shoes. And every vendor seems to have a couple of them too. I know that times are hard and cold-calling (or proactive selling) is probably a necessary evil. But it’s an evil I’d rather avoid and one that make me get depressed about these shows. The smell of desperation in the air doesn’t make for good conversation.

If any of you have seen The Wire, you’ll also know it isn’t cool for rival drug gangs to be selling their product in the same place. Imaging four gangs selling from the four corners of a busy intersection. It would be pretty awkward, and get messy quickly. Yet this is exactly what happens at Internet World. Really convenient for people like me that want to see as many vendor demos as possible, but you do sometimes get the “How Dare You Also Speak To Our Competitor” evil-eye from across the way. Some of the sales guys also have their standard line for slagging off each competitor. Something like “Oh yes, XYZ is a good product. Unfortunately, they don’t have <feature> X or any support in <region Y>”. These are targetted and XYZ = the vendor from whose stand you were previously at seeing they know exactly where you’ve come from.

Another thing the dealers and CMS Vendors have in common is that they both refer their customers as “users”. One main difference between them is that the rival vendors at Internet World don’t shoot at each other when the competition gets tough. Sometimes I think it might be more fun if they did.

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