The Sapient Salesman: Pat-a-what?

Jan Sysmans —  February 26, 2011 — Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: The Sapient Salesman began as a series of internally-focused sales coaching pieces written by SugarCRM team member Erin Fetsko. While initially focused on “selling Sugar,” Erin’s advice and wisdom have proven useful to Sugar partners, and well, anyone in the business of sales. Thus, we are happy to add her insight to the Sugar corporate blog. You can read all of Erin’s musings at The Sapient Salesman.

It wasn’t until college that I realized I, in fact, had an accent. Turns out, like most Chicagoans, I tend to pronounce my A’s as in the word “at” even when the preferred pronunciation called for a softer a-sound. Listening to all the different dialects of the English language really made me realize how much I took some Midwestern-isms for granted. How confusing it must have been for all the international folks trying to discern why I kept dangling prepositions when I’d ask if they “want to come with?” During my recent trip to Jamaica, however, I got a taste of what it’s like on the receiving end of grammatically questionable verbiage. Patois is an English-lexified creole language with West African influences spoken primarily in Jamaica. If you aren’t familiar, patios sounds like what would happen if the micro-machine man read your kids text messages word for word… with a Jamaican accent; it’s certainly English, yet remarkably difficult to understand.

All this variety in English vernacular left me pondering: Is there more value in a language pack than we might give credit? And for that matter, how often do companies with international markets run into roadblocks with their software because it can’t support the necessary character sets?

Most of us sell primarily in one or two languages, to companies with offices using a single linguistic footprint, but how often do those same offices employ some foreign staffers? Would allowing employees to navigate Sugar in their native language save them money on training and increase the overall productivity of their staff? I’d say so!

Now I’m not suggesting you further complicate your discovery process with a deep inquiry into the heritage of each of the prospective users, but with 6.1 entering the spotlight it might be time to give language packs another look. So this week if you have cause to believe Sugar’s teed up for use in a bilingual office point out the value added by our internationalization efforts.

We’ve all received an email or document from someone that contained characters, or encoding, or some other bizarre excuse Windows assigned to why we couldn’t open it properly, and these kinds of road blocks throw a wrench in your productivity. Even if your prospects don’t see the need today, they can certainly relate to the time-suck that accompanies restrictive regional software. Remind them that should their business one day expand internationally or even inter-culturally, Sugar will accommodate their CRM needs and grow with them every step of the way.

Jan Sysmans


Jan Sysmans brings 20 years of marketing and product management experience, including particular focus in the software-as-a-service segment, to his role as Senior Director of Product Marketing at SugarCRM. In this position, Mr. Sysmans is responsible for all global product marketing programs for SugarCRM. Mr. Sysmans speaks on behalf of SugarCRM about the value, benefits and future of commercial open source solutions at customer and industry events around the world. Prior to assuming his current role at SugarCRM, Mr. Sysmans was the Enterprise Marketing TME (Technical Marketing Engineer) at Cisco WebEx and Director of Marketing at WebEx Communications. Earlier in his career, Mr. Sysmans held product management positions at PlaceWare, Ensim, Narus, XO Communications and Concentric Network Communications. He also served as the chairperson of the Marketing Communications committee on the SaaS Executive Council of the Software Information and Industry Association (SIIA) from 2006-2007. Jan Sysmans holds a Bachelor of Science in commercial and diplomatic relations from the HUBrussels Business School (Belgium), and a Master of Business Administration in intercultural management from ICHEC Brussels Management School (Belgium). He speaks English, Dutch, French, German and Spanish

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