Vendors and consulting companies selling systems or projects are there to win the sale. Reputable salespeople do adhere to ethical standards. They won’t sell you an $80,000 system when they know that one for $15,000 will do the job. They will present options and not try to force customers into choices they really don’t want. They don’t hide information about long-term costs and maintenance. They know and believe in their product lines, and if a question comes up that they can’t answer, they find out. To some extent, they are there to assist and support. All these things are true, of course, of only the best and most reputable salespeople.
However, it is neither the job nor the duty of the salesperson to delve deeply into an organization’s requirements and interests, to look at alternative solutions, and to make the optimal human connections around the system. They are not obligated to represent their competition or to have a thorough cognizance of the industry. Although they may explain why their solutions are better than the competition’s, they probably won’t highlight all the unique advantages in those alternatives. They may not even know what those are.
Salespeople, no matter how reputable, are not being paid to do the due diligence for the organization. They are obliged to ensure a fit to the best of their ability, but they may not have the knowledge to assess the suitability of a product or system. Sometimes organizations make decisions that bind their vendor searches. Perhaps they have decided on SAP or Oracle in advance, and they then search for a good vendor, who will happily oblige. However, have they really determined that SAP or Oracle will meet their needs in a cost-effective way? Have they carefully considered what other types of systems they might need in conjunction with what they are planning? Generally vendors will not try to dissuade customers from buying their product lines. Also, when an organization is desperate for a fix to a nagging problem, it may make rash decisions it later comes to regret.
Tech advisors maintain a vendor-neutral stance, an open-ended perspective, and an insistence on due diligence. Therefore they can be the advocates, whereas vendors and solutions providers cannot.