The other day I was at a well known coffee shop (take a wild guess) and was steamrolled by all of the marketing hype. Try this! Take one of these home! Only for a limited time! Often the presentation of too many options makes the decision a lot more difficult. I know it’s just coffee or tea but now I have the sudden urge to collect them all! And despite years of caffeine conditioning I don’t think my heart, stomach, or my bank account could take a collecting and consuming of all. I’m looking for something different this time, but again, too many options. The next logical step is asking the Barista what their favorite is. I figure they spend their entire workday around the stuff; they MUST have a good recommendation. All I was really looking for here was a “get this” and call it good. Only after I asked, did I remember that most people who frequent this caliber of coffee joint are really particular about their coffee. I, however, am not one of the ¼ soy milk, ¼ cream, no froth, low-fat, exactly 1723 crystals of sugar type of people, so I’m not really prepared for what comes next. Instead of a one-size-fits-all answer, I’m getting a barrage of questions about my preferences. While this was not really what I was after, it hit me that this Barista is building me a solution. I did, in fact, leave with a tasty seasonal coffee, custom tailored to my needs. Servers are a lot like coffee, they rely on gratuitous amounts of caffeine to be any good; that and, there is usually never a generic solution that is going to suit your needs. The sales team at SoftLayer is not there solely to assist you in placing an order for you; they are there to ask you questions about your intentions with the server so they can recommend the best possible solution. You can have your low-fat CentOS with a double-shot of 5570’s with “venti” gigs of ram. Just ask our sales team to brew you up a solution.
Posts Tagged 'Sales'
I love working at SoftLayer. I get to play with the newest hardware before anyone else. Intel, Adaptec, Supermicro… The list goes on. If they are going to release something new, we get to play with it first. I also like progression. Speed, size, performance, reliability; I like new products and technologies that make big jumps in these areas. I am always looking to push components and complete systems to the limits.
But alas, Thomas Norris stole my thunder! Check out his article “SSD: A Peek into the Future” for the complete skinny on the SSD’s we use. I seem to be a bit to concise for a nice long blog anyways. But not to worry, I’ve got some nifty numbers that will blow the jam out of your toes!
Solid State Drives (SSD) represent a large jump in drive performance. Not to mention smaller physical size, lower power consumption, and lower heat emissions. The majority of drive activity is random read/write. SSD drives have drastically improved in this area compared to mechanical drives. This results in a drastic overall performance increase for SSD drives.
This is a comparison of the Intel 32GB X25-E Extreme drive vs. other drives we carry. Note the massive jump in the random read/write speed of the SSD drive.
No more waiting on physical R/W heads to move around. How archaic!
Please note that no performance utility should be used to definitively judge a component or system. In the end, only real time usage is the final judge. But performance tests can give you a good idea of how a component or system compares to others.
Single drive performance increases directly translate into big improvements for RAID configurations as well. I have compared two of our fastest SATA and SAS four drive RAID 10 setups to a four drive SSD RAID 10 using an Adaptec 5405 Controller.
The Adaptec 5405 RAID controller certainly plays a part in the performance increase, on top on the simple speed doubling due to 2 drives being read simultaneously. (See my future blog on the basics or RAID levels, or check Wikipedia) .
Propeller heads read on:
The numbers indicate a multiplied increase if you take the base drive speed (Cheetah – 11.7mbps / X25-E – 64.8mbps) and double it (the theoretical increase a RAID 10 would give): 23.4mbps and 129.6mbps respectively. Actually performance tests show 27.3mbps and 208.1mbps. That means the Cheetahs are getting a 15% performance boost on random read/write and the X25-E a whopping 37% due to the RAID card. Hooray for math!
Once again, this is all performance tests and a bit of math speculation. The only real measure of performance, IMO, is how it performs the job you need it to do.
In response to the recent SLales blog entry in reference to high fives, I wanted to take a moment to clarify the position of C-Level and VP level personnel and the use of High-Fives here at SoftLayer. Being a technology company that is constantly in search of the next innovation, we believe that a natural progression has occurred from the more legacy high-five to the more refined Fist Bump. If you don't know what a Fist Bump is – just catch the latest episode of "Deal or No Deal" and you will see Howie Mandel and his Fist Bump maneuver. If you are not a fan of the show, think back to your childhood days of the Wonder Twins. When that dynamic duo sought to bring about Water and Animal shapes, there was always the obligatory "Fist Bump" to initiate the process. Although not a new concept by any means, we believe the next generation Fist Bump is a far superior form of adulation for the following reasons;
- The Fist in itself represent power – it's the most aggressive form in which the hand can be manipulated
- The force in which the fists bump can speak volumes in reference to the level of excitement
- Fist Bumps can be performed repeatedly with numerous other individuals without a stinging sensation
- Fist Bumps can be performed in meetings, on phone calls and around cube corners without direct line of sight
- Fist Bumps don't make that "slappy" sound that tends to annoy unrelated third parties
- Fist Bumps do not require an individual to "go high" – Fist Bumps can be performed at low, standard and high grades
- Fist Bumps do not spread the "SamF's" during cold and flu season
- Fist Bumps can be personalized – example – two bumps and roll
- Fist Bumps seem to be understood and appreciated by young and old alike
- A proper Fist Bump is simply more elegant and invigorating then even the wildest of High-Fives
So, here I sit thinking about the lack of Fist Bump deployments and maybe it resides in the fact that we don't have a virtual Fist Bump like Mary's High Five symbol. So, without further a due, I give you the Virtual Fist Bump - III!
As anyone can plainly see, if you looked at the end of your clenched fist, you would see four fingers with a tucked thumb. That is easily represented as III! with the little dot representing the tucked thumb. So listen up SLales – a new form of celebration is acceptable here at SoftLayer. High-Fives and Fist Bumps abound!! Let's celebrate SoftLayer's Success!!
Now if we can just teach Doug how to Fist Bump without turning it into a game of bloody knuckles from the third grade.
It looks like nonsense to you, but it means OH SO MUCH more to the members of SLales.
".llli" is the international SoftLayer Sales symbol for *high five*, invoked when major deals are closed, or when hilarious jokes are made over the cube walls.
Here’s how it works: the period is the thumb, the three lower case Ls are the index, middle and ring finger, and the lower case I is the pinky. See it?
SoftLayer Sales are the big mouths of the company - we are louder, more boisterous and more interactive with our teammates than most of the other office departments, so high-fiving is pretty much a standard mode of communication. (I don’t think it hurts that pretty much everyone on the sales team was in a frat/sorority in college.)
Not everyone loves the high-five, though. When there’s a .llli session going on in the sales area, most others steer clear. When a potential high-fiver (read: Douglas Jackson) is hired, part of the training documentation includes a list of C-titles and VPs who you should not attempt to high five. Doug seems to specialize in getting people to high-five, knowing that they don’t want to.
Just another peek into the world in which we live. Come on sales chat sometime and give us a high five. Or make it a double:
117 Servers in one day. That's right -- We sold and fully provisioned 117 servers yesterday. Words can't express how proud this makes me as we've come a long way from when I started at Softlayer just over a year and a half ago. When I got here I was the 25th employee and we were in a very small, weird office and I was always within (literally) arms reach of Lance and Steven and a good (great) day was selling and provisioning double digit servers. Now things have gotten much bigger and we are still humming along coming out with new products, new datacenters (Seattle and more to come) and innovating new and never before seen ideas and services in the hosting world.
We now have over 100 employees, nearing 15,000 servers in production, a new (bigger) office and record revenue being generated daily. Two years ago when we opened our doors for business we had zero (0) in all of the above categories. We have grown up fast while continuing to be the best out there with our innovation and services.
I'm just so proud. *tear*
SoftLayer is a very unique company. It is a rare find and it is a pleasure to be associated with this company. I certainly hope our customers feel the same way (and if you don’t, please talk to us so we can make our service with you more valuable). I am a Senior Sales Representative at SL and I would like to give you more of a behind the scenes feel for why we are the best sales staff in the industry.
I am a people pleaser, and I truly love to help people find satisfaction. I have had several sales positions since I graduated from college many years ago. The thing those previous sales positions had in common was that the salesman was incented to take his own needs into consideration first and foremost. This directly conflicts with what I want to accomplish in business. It is understood that everyone goes into business not to play Barbie dolls, but to earn a profit. Still, this seems fundamentally wrong to me. I have direct experience (even in this industry) where sales positions are incented to put their own needs and wants before those of the customer, or even the company they are working for. This misappropriation of incentive or motivation can cause any number of scenarios that are bad for business on both sides. Luckily this is not how things are done at Softlayer. The customer’s needs come first, as it should be.
The main reason why I came to SoftLayer was because of the way that its sales staff is designed. We are put together as a team, for the customer's benefit. Customers do not need to worry about working with a single individual sales person unless they simply prefer to. I know that I prefer to build up business relationships because this makes for a good understanding of what the main goals are for each customer, and I can have a better grasp of what I can personally do to help. We are not individually commissioned so customers can rest assured knowing that we are doing everything possible to put them in the best situation imaginable. This allows us to avidly search for those “win – win” situations that are positive for everyone involved.
The SoftLayer Sales staff is also very diverse in the styles and talents that we offer. Everyone here has had several years of industry experience and is quite knowledgeable about not only product lines, but also the businesses of our customers. I would go so far as to say that we have the most knowledgeable staff in the industry.
The bottom line is that an intelligent sales staff working for the right reasons ends up with satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are inclined to do more business with a company, and a positive culture between the company and customer is created as opposed to a negative one where it seems that there is always a disparity between the two.
Because of the culture we have created here, it makes me happy to come to work each day.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into the first time I met Lance Crosby. It was a late winter afternoon, quite some time ago. I walked into a job interview, happy-go-lucky, for a sales position at a web hosting company. I thought, “I would love a sales job!" (or any real job for that matter). We sat and had a normal interview, and everything seemed to be going very well. I was unusually relaxed which was far cry from my normal interviewing skills. Relaxed, that is until it was time for the datacenter tour.
We walked through the dark NOC, past the twenty five to thirty television screens showing everything from The Weather Channel, to CNN, also displaying what appeared to be a bunch of meaningless graphs and digits. As we ventured into the badge-access-only datacenter, my head started to spin. I was shown diesel generators, rows of UPS’, HVAC units, switches, routers, and more servers than I had ever seen in my life (I had seen zero). I remember "playing it cool" and acting like it made some sense to me. I am sure this was very entertaining for Lance.
I was offered the job and that is when the terror set in. I began to realize this was much more than a sales job. I was going to be selling servers, at the same time wondering "what the heck IS a server?" Over the course of the following months I was able to learn about the internal components of a server and all they entail – RAM (makes/models), different HDDs (makes/models/sizes/speeds), port speeds, bandwidth usage, operating systems, control panels, backup solutions, etc. Over the phone, chat, and via email I met with and became familiar with our extremely broad customer base, the different businesses they ran, and their likes and dislikes. I dealt with the good, the bad, and the ugly situations. I even learned to take care of issues myself without badgering Steven to death. I finally knew what I was talking about! Now I absolutely love what I do and cannot imagine being in any other field. This is not to mention the wonderful opportunity of working at a young, successful, and innovative company. Not many server sales representatives have the honor of this experience.
I think this story probably sounds familiar to the majority of the sales team. The web hosting industry is an amazing one. When presented with all of the details and information that are vital in selling servers and keeping customers happy, it can be down right scary. However, once you open yourself up to the information that is being handed to you, it all falls into place. It is especially challenging to take in everything you need to know as a SoftLayer sales representative. We are required to be as technical as we possibly can so that there is as little correspondence with our Support technicians as possible during the initial sales process. It is an ever-changing industry, and we do need to be on our toes. Lance likes to kid and say that I did not even know what a computer was when I first started out. While that might not be entirely true, it is not very far fetched. I would like to think that we have all come a long way.
When I first ventured out into the real world beyond the shelter of reality I refer to as college, my professional career started far away from the hosting industry. My first position was with a financial services firm with two clear goals:
- Pass the Series 7 exam in 5 weeks
- Learn how to “work the phones”
I soon found out that "working the phones" basically meant cold calling prospects, sometimes as many as 500 dials a day. We referred to this process as "dialing for dollars". In the financial services world your phone was your lifeline, all the top guys would tell you that if you mastered the art of a phone call, you where golden. After hearing the word "NO" millions of times and developing a really thick skin, I eventually got comfortable on the phone soliciting new customers. The appointments soon followed and I began to build my book of clients. I spent my career as a financial adviser communicating through tools such as telephone, meetings, and seminars which served as the foundation for building my business.
After living through both sides of the dot-com bubble in the stock market and seeing a lot of devastated stock portfolios, I was surprised to learn about a few thriving hosting companies. Much of what I was hearing about these companies was in stark contrast to the feeling on Wall Street, but after a lot of arm twisting from Lance I took a leap of faith and went to work as an enterprise sales representative.
It didn’t take long for me to realize my trustworthy tools for building clients from my previous career were archaic in this new environment. I was introduced to a world where the methods of communication were foreign to me. Email, IM, text messages, sales chat, forums, blogs, ticketing systems were all new to me and never used in my previous career because of compliance and regulatory issues. I realized I needed to embrace these new methods because it was the method my customers and prospects preferred to use. As I became more comfortable using these new channels, my career progressed into management where my responsibilities were expanded to help others.
I find it impossible to explain to my old financial adviser buddies how SoftLayer is building its client base. When I tell them our sales process involves posting in forums and spending hours on sales chat, they look at me like I am from a different world. I’ve learned to explain it like this:
The sales process really hasn’t changed; it is the same stuff that has been taught for a hundred years. What has changed is the method in which we communicate. Instead of forcing people to communicate in uncomfortable old school methods, we focus on communicating with customers and prospects on their terms in a way they prefer to do business.