Barnes champions back to basics selling strategies

Barnes champions back to basics selling strategies

Westcon’s Dayle Barnes is in many ways an old fashioned salesperson. He loves getting out among the industry, prefers a phone call to an email and says neither sales nor distribution have to be complicated.

“At the end of the day sales is sales, it’s about people, it’s not rocket science,” says Barnes. “Distribution is pretty simple – it’s about timely, accurate quotes, having the stock and delivering on your promises and returning calls.

“I’m very old school, I like picking up the phone and talking to people.”

Barnes is also not afraid to defend the technology he’s selling, likening the process at times to convincing a jury in a court case.

“I enjoy the sales side, getting out and having a discussion over why you’d use my technology. Everything we sell is contestable in the marketplace,” he says. “I could buy something from Ingram or ED, or buy a different brand.”

He believes justifying the value of your technology will become even more important as an economic downturn looms, with companies’ IT spending coming under increasing scrutiny.

Barnes didn’t have an interest in technology before starting in the industry, but finds many areas of technology exciting now he has had an extensive career in the sector. These include wireless developments and RFID.

After spending seven years as an account manager in the building industry, he joined Telecom for another seven years. There he moved through account management in the small and medium business team to the corporate voice arena, then to Telecom Advanced Solutions.

His sales skills came to the fore when he secured the Telecom role – he says he exaggerated his technical ability by telling the Telecom interviewer he knew how to programme his video recorder.

From Telecom, Barnes became network security vendor Checkpoint’s business development manager at distributor Express Data.

In March 2006, Express Data ended its local relationship with Checkpoint after the two had split across the Tasman. It was a head spinning experience for Barnes, who followed the agency to Lan Systems and the new distributor readied itself to do business within a week.

“What [Express Data general manager of sales and marketing] Paul [Plester] said was very correct – it was going to be a slow death [between Checkpoint and Express Data]. I felt like I wanted to stick with Checkpoint more than I wanted to stick with ED.”

Barnes says joining Lan Systems was a bit of a leap of faith and he had to trust his gut instinct.

“It was quite interesting getting a contract through a fax machine and not knowing many of the people. You just trust your gut feeling – it has been a lot of fun and still is.”

Lan Systems has now adopted the name of its global owner Westcon Group, along with boosting its vendor base to eight, with additions such as Nortel, Aruba and Emerson Networks. Barnes is now New Zealand sales manager.

He says the company has “gone from a little cottage industry to a reasonable sized distributor”, but this hasn’t meant loss of customer contact for Barnes.

“We’re still small enough at the moment that I get a lot of customer facing time. If I ever completely lost that I’d probably go mental and drive the people around me mental.”

The New Zealand team now comprises three others besides Barnes – with an office manager, a business development manager and a pre-sales representative.

He says the team is gelling nicely and they ensure there are regular visits to partners in the regional centres. Barnes also visits Westcon in Australia about five times a year.

It’s an advantage to now have the clout of the Westcon group behind them he says, citing an example of being able to source product from the US at short notice so a reseller could stop a major outage for a New Zealand customer. Also, he can call on the Australian marketing staff and make use of Australian product stocks.

Along with travel to Australia, Barnes has visited different Asian countries on vendor trips. “The travel is fun and exciting and you get to go to places you’ve never been to,” he says, adding the trips allow him to form friendships with industry representatives in a less formal setting.

Back home, he also regularly travels to the family holiday home in Waipu, a couple of hours’ drive from Auckland. He says it’s a good contrast to the central city schools his children attend.

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