How to Treat Oracle Sales Reps as Passive Order Takers

Executive Summary

  • Customers frequently overestimate the helpfulness of Oracle sales reps.
  • We propose treating Oracle sales reps not as advisors or as a friendly entity, but as passive order takers.


Oracle sales reps are set up as the go-to source for information about Oracle products, pricing, terms and conditions. In this article, we will explain why frequent interactions with Oracle sales reps is not only bad for your mental health but leads to inaccurate information.

What Do Oracle Sales Reps Know?

Oracle sales reps are hired for their ability to sell. Everything else is secondary.
Oracle sales reps will normally have never used an Oracle product and don’t spend much time learning about the experiences of their customers with different applications and databases that they purchased. I have worked with many Oracle reps, as a solution consultant and I don’t ask Oracle reps questions (except about pricing) they ask me questions. So it is odd that the customer sees the reps as a source of information (outside of pricing). As soon as a question is asked of a sales rep, they turn around and find someone they can ask. In fact, even pricing is often performed by a specialized pricing resource.

Inexperienced Generalists

  • The Oracle Sales Organization is Staffed with Inexperienced Generalists: Back in 2012, Mark Hurd spearheaded a corporate restructuring program to reduce the number of Oracle account contacts. In the past, customers had to deal with one sales rep for each of Oracle’s pillars: database, middleware, applications, engineered systems, and services. This was an inconvenience for customers who didn’t want to deal with that many reps from a single vendor. Mark’s program reduced this number from five down to one. Because of the enormous breadth of Oracle’s product portfolio, this single point of contact ended up being a jack of all trades, master of none.
  • College Hiring Program: The second change came with Mark’s college hiring program. Hurd launched this program in 2013 to hire thousands of college graduates straight from school to become salespeople. Since then, Oracle’s actively replaced so many experienced (expensive) sales reps with inexperienced (cheap) fresh grads as a cost-cutting measure to maintain operating margin against a sharply declining revenue growth. The competition from Microsoft and AWS considerably impaired database sales and the popularity of SaaS vendors like Salesforce and Workday hit application sales hard. SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors in 2011, Ariba in 2012, and Hybris in 2013 dealt a massive blow to Oracle application sales performance.

The end result is what we see today. A cheap, inexperienced sales rep hired straight out of college without field experience or industry knowledge. The majority are business administration and marketing communication majors without any computer science background or first-hand exposure to IT departments or project work.

Oracle’s Turnover of their Millennial Hires

Oracle’s sales reps are hired because they are cheap, not because they are experienced. Young people fresh out of college are attracted to the vendor brand name and run in droves to sign-up. However, so many don’t stay for long and most leave within 2 years. This high turnover rate means that Oracle reps are temporary commodities lacking both the field experience and the institutional knowledge required to provide customers with any kind of substantive advice.

Enforcing Oracle’s Predatory Practices

Oracle’s sales reps are compensated for enforcing Oracle’s predatory practices. Sales reps receive five to seven times more commission for cloud revenue. This financial incentive means that the quality of advice customers receive is highly suspect. Sales reps also conceal Oracle’s predatory tactics from customers

These include the following:

  • Changes to license terms that make it prohibitively expensive to run Oracle software in competing clouds. In 2017, Oracle quietly changed their core licensing factor (CLF) effectively doubling the license cost of Oracle database on AWS and Azure. Instead of pointing this out, Oracle reps claim that Oracle will cut your AWS bill in half, guaranteed.
  • Aggressive audits of software usage, known in Oracle sales as the Nuclear Option, in order to find opportunities to charge more. A developer may enable a debugging flag that requires a different license. A single flag like that can trigger millions of dollars in additional costs.
  • Policies that don’t recognize virtualization partitions in cloud environments. Though you may deploy your software to a two-core VM, Oracle may force you to license all 32 cores that are on that server because they don’t recognize the partitioning scheme as valid.
  • Demands for up-front lump-sum payments, called cloud credits, rather than pay-as-you-grow incremental payments. This pushes all of the risk to the buyer. The project you bought the software for may not work out but your money is gone. This model makes it prohibitively difficult and expensive to buy a small amount of software for an experiment that may or may not turn into a real product.
  • True-ups at the end of a contract, whereby Oracle charges you for what you’ve used above the contracted amount for the term of the contract. There are never refunds for what you’ve used below the contracted amount for the term of the contract.
  • Mandatory upsells of expensive consulting or other services or products.

Oracle reps treat customers solely as a source of revenue, rather than as a long-term partner.

What Do Oracle Sales Reps Know About Your Business?

One of the ideas of a sales rep is that they will know your business and therefore be able to recommend the right thing to you. However, Oracle is far too quota oriented for sales reps to fulfill this role even if they wanted to in other respects. With our clients, Oracle reps make repeated mistakes around the environments of their customers where they have already had operating Oracle systems for 10 or 15 years! How can this be? It sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Well, Oracle reps frequently turn over, and the knowledge of the customer’s environment dissipates. Everything the Oracle rep provides regarding the environment must be checked. It cannot be assumed that they have made the right estimations.

What is the Accuracy of Information from Oracle Sales Reps?

Low. Oracle is the lowest rated vendor in our Honest Vendor Ratings, tied with SAP.

This is for several reasons.

  • Oracle hires its reps without consideration for information quality.
  • Oracle sales reps are themselves provided with heaps of inaccurate information by Oracle.
  • Oracle’s marketing literature is quite inaccurate. For example, we can find large inaccuracies in any Oracle marketing document that is put in front of us.

Treating Oracle Sales Reps as They Should be Treated: As Passive Order Takers

Oracle sales reps lack the technical expertise or the objectivity to be used to tell you what applications or databases you should purchase from Oracle. As an example, the Oracle Cloud still has significant maturity issues, but you won’t hear anything about this from an Oracle sales rep. Oracle sales reps too consistently mislead clients that we have had to be trusted to provide insight to the prospect.

The Oracle sales organization is hierarchical and pushes sales reps to be a certain way, which is reactive rather than thoughtful. Oracle is far too responsive to Wall Street and to the quarterly earnings hamster wheel to place their customer’s interests ahead of their own.

All of this adds up why in the vast majority of situations we advise companies to treat Oracle and Oracle sales reps as passive order takers. Treating them this way is how they should be treated, and is what will allow the prospect to receive the best outcomes from the process. Ironically, the less that customers listen to Oracle sales reps, the better they tend to do with their Oracle investments.


This article is counter-intuitive. Customers are directed to “talk to their Oracle rep” but what do you find out when you do? Deloitte has to direct them because they are just a consulting arm of Oracle. Deloitte has a partnership agreement with Oracle, and they value their relationship with Oracle far more than with any one client. For this reason, the Oracle consulting companies stay away from offering any advice that might contradict Oracle or be seen as opposing their interests during the negotiation. The Oracle consulting companies are financially motivated to push their client to get all the information from Oracle. But we can say “wait, maybe you shouldn’t just “talk to your rep.” You need to go through the rep eventually, but you tell them what you need, they don’t tell you.

When we provide software selection support, we don’t spend much time talking to Oracle sales reps. We did not ask them questions when we supported them in pre-sales engagements, and we still don’t. We already have access to the Oracle information that we need, and our approach is to push interactions with Oracle to later in the process. And we don’t care what the customer buys, and make no more money if they buy A or B, or 2 of A vs. 3 of A. By telling Oracle what the customer wants to buy, it takes the inertia away from the Oracle sales rep. At that point, it simply becomes a question about price, timing and terms and conditions.

Post Article

Oracle sales reps and consulting companies will hate this article. They might point out that taking such an approach is not partnering with Oracle, and will not result in getting what you need. Our experience says otherwise. Both Oracle sales reps and consulting companies will dislike this article because it reduces their ability to control the account.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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