I'm afraid I can only offer insight as a person who is on the receiving end of sales pitches (and a "techie.") Probably much of what I'll say is echoed in other responses; it's unfortunate that this question best fits here on OnStartups instead of with the technical exchanges where you could actually ask the people who you're addressing this question to (with some exceptions, no doubt there are a number of technical people here too; just saying that casting the net over in the other silo's would yield more insight, most likely.)
In no particular order:
First, many technical people share personality quirks that could be classified as high-functioning Asperger's. That is, interacting with people tends to be frustrating and irritating. At best, it's emotionally draining. So technical people will avoid it.
Second, there's no CYA. Phone calls require taking notes, while emails and messages are self-documenting. I also prefer messages because I can refer back to them if I need to know something...reference numbers, names, links, things of that nature. I don't want to write stuff down.
Third, the call is putting a burden on me, when you're the one pushing a product. It's far harder for me to juggle multiple tasks when you're talking on the phone. I am expected to take notes on things. And chances are that I have zilch interest in your product when you call. You're supposed to be making me interested in it; I get that. It's your job as a sales person. But really, you're interrupted me when I could be working on a website update or getting backups done or any of a number of other tasks that actually have to get done when I don't feel like getting hearing a sales pitch on why your product is so great that I won't mind missing my fifteen minute lunch window. If I get your information via email or snazzy website, I can refer to it when I want to get to it; I have a few minutes, maybe I'll check it out.
Phone calls are interruptions. I remember reading somewhere that when you're doing a task that requires intense concentration (such as programmers that are "in the zone") it takes something like 15 minutes for them to get back into that mode after being interrupted by an unrelated task. Every time my phone rings I have to stop and figure out what I was doing before being interrupted. And that's annoying. If you want me to like you and your product, the annoying me is probably not a good tactic to use. "Now I'm ten minutes behind because of XYZ...thanks."
Fourth, sales people aren't technical. I don't need to know the stuff that impresses my users. Honest. The flashy talk? I don't want to hear it. As a matter of fact, the more buzzwords I hear ("It works with the Cloud! We're CLOUD based!") the more I believe you're covering for ignorance of what your product actually does. You're pandering to the wrong audience. As a "techie" I'm stuck having to actually run interference for supporting your software or product with the users, and for that I don't really care how whiz-bang the interface is, I need to know what the server requirements are and what kind of database it'll need and information of that nature. Sales people couldn't tell MongoDB from MySQL. And since I know that they usually are working to sell sell sell I know there are times where they'll gloss over details or outrightly make stuff up on the spot.
Going back to the Aspergian reference, I have little tolerance for BS. I don't need the song and dance, I need the bottom line.
Fifth, going again back to the Aspergian reference, sales is a social engineering gig. And if you know anything about that type of personality, the "engineering" personality I've heard it referred to, there's little room for outright social pleasantry. I don't need to know how nice your product is. I don't need the warm fuzzies. I distrust people trying to manipulate me emotionally to appeal to my sense of whether it's a good product or not, because the product should to some degree stand on its own. I'll use a product with crap marketing behind it if it means that it has good support and works well for the job at hand. We're practical, less emotional. So the more your product can stand on it's own, the less I have to do a song and dance with people that can't actually be in a position to help me, the better off you are.
Technical people tend to work off a meritocracy. Some stranger calling me up and telling me how wonderful their gadget or software is isn't going to tell me much. Why should I believe you? Why should I care? But when we see another sysadmin or programmer saying, "I've been using Blabberin' Blatherscythe for automating my server deployment, it ROCKS!" That piques my interest. That makes me Google for it and look for information on it; I absorb the information from the website, their demos on line, things like that. I don't need to hear the biased pitch from someone who puts me on the spot to make decisions right then and there, or is wasting my time. I can take in the information at my own pace at my own convenience while juggling other tasks that require attention. And more than that, I have had a peer talking about the product and liking it.
Conversely, news travels fast when a peer tries a product and says, "I worked for three days and couldn't get it configured to work properly...their support online was nonexistent, and an email to support never got a reply."
Blogs reviews, online support, the ability to get my own answers and have them handy for reference. That goes much farther than a marketing person reading a script to me. Technically minded people use technical methods of getting their product reviews and want products that market themselves.
The last thing I can think of off the top of my head is that sales people are rarely helpful. They call up, interrupt my work, try to get me to listen to a canned speech, and in the end they can't actually do anything for me unless it's part of their own workflow. The only time I know anyone here doesn't mind taking a call from a sales person is when that person is able to negotiate deals that substantially knocks off cost or is able to actually connect me to someone who can help with my problem. I don't need a sales person so much as I need a liaison. For example, we had an Apple rep that was a sales person, but when I needed to know something about authenticating the test Mac on our particular network, he turned around and connected me with an engineer that actually worked on that system. And he stuck around to know what was going on, so I wasn't just a number to him. I could email him when we needed something and he forwarded it to people that could help; so he spoke in the medium I wanted to speak in. Which in turn gave me a favorable impression of him and his company. And for the most part he knew his product; when he didn't, he admitted it and actually got my answers for me.
Train your sales people to know more about the product they're selling and to be honest with it. If you have limitations, admit it. I don't like being snowballed or lied to. Have your people know more than the buzzwords. And give them the authority to help me and be a little more of an assistant rather than just someone looking to make a sale.
If you want to ever encourage a technical person to talk to your company, make our lives easier. Stop trying to get me to conform to what makes you comfortable, and talk to me in the language I want to hear in the way I want to hear it. Appeal to my peers through blogs, free trials, demo videos, and online searches that will turn your product up when I Google for solutions to my problems. Ask yourself if your product, if left in an open show floor kiosk, would draw attention to itself and make me want to use it or know more about it. Oh, and make it not just user-appealing, but supportable for the tech people. If it's a PITA to troubleshoot and support you can bet I want nothing to do with your sales people.
When evaluating a non-commodity solution (especially one that's pretty
new/different), not only does one often not know what questions to
ask, but researching these questions will take a significant amount of
time. It's much easier to talk to a salesperson, become educated about
solution, ask a few questions, and if things seem like a good fit...
further the discussion.
That's the wrong attitude, in my opinion. To me, it sounds like you're saying that "my product is so advanced that it solves problems you didn't know you had! You just don't know why it's so great!" If the product is supposed to solve my problem, I usually know I have a problem in the first place. I don't want to be interrupted to be told I have a problem I was completely unaware of, usually while I'm working on problems I am aware of and your sales call is interrupting. More than that this contradicts my experience with most salespeople...they don't know the answers to the questions I do have. Usually when it comes to becoming educated about why I absolutely need someone's product they mean that I need to hear the sales pitch...again, not what I need.
In the end geeks are very practical-minded, while sales people appeal to the social engineering side. We view it as an imposition and annoyance to deal with these pitches. We need someone to cut to the chase, bottom line it, and trim all the frosting that makes the non-technical people drool and give us the cake that makes non-technical people glaze over. If your salespeople know more about Battlestar Galactica and Firefly than what a Snooki is you might be on the right track to studying this phenomena. :-)