Silver lining from Thai flooding’s dark clouds

June 23, 2012 Comments Off on Silver lining from Thai flooding’s dark clouds

Back in November, I wrote about the impact of the devastating Thai floods. Many disk drive factories were damaged or destroyed, and the price of hard drives rose accordingly. A few weeks ago, I speculated that these tragic events might spur innovation (and price cutting) in the solid-state disk (SSD) market, and it looks like this might be coming to pass.

Geoff Gastor over at The Tech Report has done a great job crunching data from Camelegg and analyzing SSD price trends, and the results are impressive:

The current generation of solid-state drives is cheaper than ever, with multiple models living comfortably below the dollar-per-gigabyte threshold.

This is great news for cloud computing, Big Data, analytics, and anything else that requires fast access to lots of data. And given that Apple and many other hardware vendors are moving towards SSD-only storage options, it seems likely that these trends will continue.

Website performance testing tutorial

June 6, 2012 Comments Off on Website performance testing tutorial

On the heels of his excellent Selenium tutorial, software testing legend and all-around good guy Frank Cohen is at it again. This time, he’s written an outstanding (and free!) tutorial on everything you need to know about the tools, methodology, and skills necessary to properly test the performance of your website. Learn more here.

Winning sales engineer trait #5: Articulate

June 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

In the fifth episode of the 7 Habits of the Most Effective SEs, it’s time to turn our attention to the considerable role that communication plays in the technical sales process. As a key participant in the sales organization, SEs naturally have major customer-facing responsibilities. In general, it should come as no surprise that an articulate SE will outperform one that can’t communicate. After all, think of all the situations where an SE must disseminate information:

  • Conducting a needs analysis
  • Delivering a technical presentation
  • Responding to an RFP
  • Performing a demo
  • Replying to questions
  • Presenting results of a proof-of-concept
  • Helping transition a prospective client to a paying customer

As you can see from this abbreviated list, these exchanges are verbal as well as written, so a top-level SE will excel at both types of communication. In terms of SE writing talents, poor spelling and grammar can cause a prospect to question your organization’s standards. Frankly, modern spell checkers and grammar tools mean that there’s no excuse for this kind of sloppiness. For those SEs that are uncomfortable in speaking situations, there are some very helpful courses that can help improve their presentation skills: I’ve seen quite a number of shy, unassuming SEs blossom when given proper training.

When it’s time to hire an SE, I recommend setting up a phone interview first. Some people aren’t comfortable on the phone, but if this type of interaction is part of your sales cycle then it’s a must for your candidates. After that, set up a face-to-face interview and ask the candidate to deliver a presentation about their current product or service. If they can’t (or won’t), then I suggest moving on: I’ve personally witnessed candidates that had been working for the same company for 5+ years yet were unable to pitch their product!

Assuming the candidate makes it past the initial phone and in-person screen, ask for writing samples. RFPs and other detailed customer-oriented documents are ideal. And don’t buy the ‘confidentiality’ excuse: these missives can be sanitized or excerpted yet still demonstrate if your candidate is likely to be a ‘Great Communicator’.

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