Dell vets: buff up your resumes this weekend

by Robin Harris on Friday, 9 September, 2016

Now that Dell has completed the EMC acquisition, you are in for a rude awakening. While Dell may own EMC, EMC owns you.

Richard Egan, one of the founders os EMC, fostered an exceptionally aggressive sales culture. The company liked to hire guys from blue collar families who’d played football in college, and then set them in a competitive culture where, if successful, they could make $500,000 a year.

All company travel was done on personal time, not business hours. Reps weren’t allowed to get too comfortable with their territories and accounts: after a year or two of success, your budget would be upped and/or you’d get some new accounts. And miss your number for a couple of quarters? You’d be MIA.

The pressure was intense. When I was at Sun, a customer told us that he’d had to call security to remove an EMC rep who was screaming at him for buying Sun instead of the EMC kit she’d been counting on closing.

A DELLicate transition
As EMC has acquired other companies with different cultures, and as cost pressures have grown, EMC CEO Joe Tucci tamped down the macho go-for-the-throat culture of Egan’s EMC. But make no mistake, EMC is still an aggressive sales machine.

Forget the who bought who details. It’s not uncommon for the acquired company personnel to elbow out the acquiring company’s incumbents. After all, if the acquiring company had the skills they wanted in-house, why go outside?

Dell’s storage initiatives, while well-intentioned, suffered from two problems, one normal and one not. The normal problem is when a large company acquires a small one, the small company gets engulfed in meeting a thousand new requirements and process hoops, while at the same time trying to get the large company sales force to start aggressively flogging their gear.

The abnormal problem: Mr. Dell never knew what he didn’t know about storage, so he never put the emphasis on changing Dell’s culture to make it happen. Since storage sales are harder than server sales, the Dell sales force has never been interested, while Dell’s storage marketing team didn’t have Mr. Dell’s support to overcome sales inertia. For server sales teams, the forecast calls for pain.

But the carnage won’t stop there
EMC has a deep bench, both in sales and operations, as well as way more technology than Dell has ever seen. When there’s an internal hire to be made, the EMC candidate is likely to have more relevant experience.

That’s not all. Since Dell has wildly overpaid for EMC, and the global economy is weak, the way to higher profits is through cost cuts. Headcount will get a serious cut over the next 24 months.

The StorageMojo take
I’d be a little more optimistic if Mr. Dell had turned the reins over to Joe Tucci, who’s one of the smartest CEOs in tech. Not that that would help Dell vets, but it would get the transition running smoother, sooner.

Instead we’ll likely get Mr. Dell’s usual flailing about and multiple misfires, especially as the enormity of this acquisition sinks in.

If I were a Dell vet, I’d rather jump than be pushed.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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