Image credit: LinkedIn
Apple has a long and sometimes unpleasant history of hiring sales executives from other companies in the hopes that the new guy will have the magic mojo to make everything right. Now Apple has brought in a new HP veteran to sell to large corporations. It doesn't usually work out very well based on this author's experience at Apple.
Over at re/code, Arik Hesseldahl has written an excellent piece on the hiring of John Solomon. a former senior VP with HP's printing and personal systems group. Mr. Hesseldahl wrote:
His precise role and title are unclear, though several sources describe it as being central to Apple’s push to boost sales to big companies and government agencies with large technology budgets.
This would appear to make perfect sense. Apple has partnered with IBM on iPad sales and MobileFirst for iOS solutions. Apple is incredibly popular with the public and sales are soaring, so it would seem to be time to charge into the enterprise. Again.
Except for the fact that Apple has been trying this for decades, and it seldom works.
The Apple Dilemma
The problem is that, in my experience, like Pollyanna, Apple's most senior executives believe that they have truly great products (generally true), and so the right kind of talented sales VP should be able to make a lot of money for Apple by brilliantly selling into the enterprise (generally false).
One of the primary reasons for this is that the Sales VP is totally isolated from the product design and implementation phase. As a result, he (or she) can talk a great story about Apple products in general, but has very little actual power to seal the deal when the enterprise has specific needs.
It more or less goes back to Steve Jobs who believed that if an enterprise executive didn't embrace the greatness of Apple products—as conceived by Apple— then he (or she) wasn't worth working with.
What has resulted is that mid-level corporate people embrace Apple products and make them work, but when it comes to the grand challenges in a corporation, if Apple products don't fit, they're bypassed by the CIO. More agreeable and more experienced companies in corporate and government sales like IBM, Dell and Hewlett Packard know how to work that angle. That's, after all, why Apple partnered with IBM.
I hope this new endeavor with Mr. Solomon is a great success. But I've seen too many Apple sales VPs come onboard with great enthusiasm, become shackled by Apple's culture, falter slightly, then be dismissed as "not the right guy."
When an Apple senior sales VP has better control of the products he's trying to develop and sell as enterprise solutions, then things might go better. However, I haven't seen that change.
And so it goes.