Last Updated on March 21, 2021 by Shaun Snapp
- 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 are not only bad for your mental health but leads to inaccurate information.
Our References for This Article
If you want to see our references for this article and other related Brightwork articles, see this link.
Lack of Financial Bias Notice: The vast majority of content available on the Internet about Oracle is marketing fiddle-faddle published by Oracle, Oracle partners, or media entities paid by Oracle to run their marketing on the media website. Each one of these entities tries to hide its financial bias from readers. The article below is very different.
- First, it is published by a research entity.
- Second, no one paid for this article to be written, and it is not pretending to inform you while being rigged to sell you software or consulting services. Unlike nearly every other article you will find from Google on this topic, it has had no input from any company's marketing or sales department.
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 their customers’ experiences 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.
- 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 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 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 make it prohibitively expensive to run Oracle software in competing clouds. In 2017, Oracle quietly changed its core licensing factor (CLF), effectively doubling the Oracle database’s license cost 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, 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 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 risks 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 long-term partners.
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 their customers’ environments where they have already had operating Oracle systems for 10 or 15 years! How can this be? It sounds impossible. 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 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 objectivity to tell you what applications or databases you should purchase from Oracle. For 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 why i.e., advise companies to treat Oracle and Oracle sales reps as passive order takers. In the vast majority of situations, treating them this way is how they should be treated and what will allow the prospect to receive the best outcomes from the process. Ironically, the fewer 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 more than with anyone 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.
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 get 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.