“Geek” Power1 Jul, 2005 By: Ronelle Ingram imageSource
It’s a typical, but necessary
question I receive on a regular basis, “How can I increase service department
The truth is there is no easy answer that I can email back in a few paragraphs.
The more ideas we are exposed to, the greater number of opportunities that are
My newest profit center deals with embracing the idiosyncrasies of our clients’
“geek community.” This community is made up of the knowledgeable,
computer-minded IT (Information Technology) professionals. Some of the most
powerful people in the world today are a part of this intelligent society,
including the world’s wealthiest man, Bill Gates.
This community has created a different type of client than the traditional
office equipment dealer sold to in the past. To be successful, we must change
our approach to sales and service before entering their world.
As you all know, the latest area of our profit sector is the connected side of
the office equipment business. Integration, solutions, software, document
capture, scanning, and other technologies are our new venues. The days of box
selling are gone. Most profitable interactions involve end users’ IT
As a proactive service manger, I am spending much of my training time trying to
achieve better ways to communicate with our clients’ IT staff. I have not only
found that IT departments seem to have larger budgets than do the facilities
side of most companies, but it has fewer restraints. So it is the IT department
managers that we try to identify, befriend and tap into their needs.
Learning how to integrate “geek thinking” into our selling, installing and
servicing mode has been a slow process for some. I want to share with you some
of the lessons we have learned that have helped our service and sales department
at my company better relate and understand the “geek mentality.”
• “Geeks” come in many different shapes and sizes. They are male and female and
come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. They (male and female) can
have ponytails and earrings. Some wear Levis, T-shirts or even three-piece
suits. So, don’t judge anyone based on appearance. Their titles range from help
desk tech to CEO. There are those IT people who have the final say in all
decisions. There are also the IT people who do not have the power to say yes,
but they do hold the final veto power of NO.
• An unhappy IT person has the ability to sabotage any equipment on the network,
instantly ruining the credibility of any vendor. As a technical manager, I have
taught all of my staff the importance of walking a fine line between appearing
to know too little and knowing too much.
• The key to future business relations with any client is getting along with
their IT staff. It is acceptable to ask certain questions of the IT
professional. Just make sure you never question the IT person’s authority,
creativity or knowledge.
• Try to present anything your company wants to sell in terms of how it will
simplify their systems operation or lessen the IT professional’s workload.
• Sales, service and administrative people must be trained to understand the
important role of the often introverted, black and white thinking,
technology-focused IT client.
• Once your company has established a trusting relationship with the end user’s
IT staff, the sales process normally moves very quickly.
• The IT professional, with accessible money, tends to make decisions more
quickly with less superficial information (sales talk) required. “Geeks” focus
on solving problems by finding a solution. Meetings appear to be a waste of
their time because nothing is actually accomplished. Meetings provide
superficial information for situations that may never happen. Whenever possible,
interface with your client’s “geek” in front of a computer, not around a
• Companies are dependent on those who have the knowledge of the network. When
it comes to the minute-to-minute operation of every company, “geeks” are more
important than the owner, major stockholder or top salesperson.
• In a larger organization with multiple IT people, it is vital to understand
the tribe mentality. Do not single out or try to split the IT staff. Harmonious
interaction is imperative to move the project forward. Their IT staff should
understand and embrace the product the dealer wants them to implement.
• “Geeks” live in a world of creativity, truth, rational thinking, control,
persistence, intellectual competition, openness, playfulness, and integrity.
Much of their work involves independent thinking. Their goal is to find the
shortest path to the best solution.
• IT people, like most technical workers, are security focused. Their constant
goal is to create and sustain network and personal security. The scientific and
mathematical base of their work sets the standard for the intellectual serenity
they are always seeking.
• If a sales or service person walks into their workplace and threatens their
control, power and serenity, everyone’s job is made much harder.
• Reason, logic and truth are the necessary skills needed to create a
comfortable “geek environment.” Features, functions and cost saving information
should be pitched to the CFO not the ITO.
• There is an international scientific language that is familiar to IT
professionals. The Internet, email, instant messaging, online magazine, and
teleconferencing have all added to the worldwide sharing of ideas. It is
necessary for someone in your organization to stay current on the changing
trends and techno-language.
• Having no desire for the humdrum duties of a managerial position, the “power
geek” within your client’s organization may not be the IT manager. Teach your
techs to be on the lookout for the hub of activity. Whose desk has the greatest
geek traffic? That person can be the key player in successfully endorsing a new
product or idea to the group.
• “Geeks” have a hypocrisy sensor built into their psyche. Lies, half-truths,
guessing, threats, bribes, strong-arm tactics, and smoke and mirrors are
instantly detected and eventually punished.
• IT people are indeed the people who can deliver, perpetuate or destroy
technological innovations. They can make or break any integrated office
The ability to maximize the favorable interaction with your client’s IT staff
greatly increases your company’s ability to complete profitable solution sales.
A service and sales staff that embraces the unique personality traits of the
often maligned, but much needed “geek,” will ensure the future prosperity of
their clients’ businesses as well as the growth of their own company.