Yesterday I mocked Fab Tourre as a probable sales hack. I don't know him, but consider that he was selling a mortgage CDO derivative while the collateral that underlay it was collapsing in value (the ABX-HE 2007-1 BBB index had already started imploding, and was trading well below par). If Goldman did lose $83 MM on this deal as they say (because Goldman ended up long some of this issue), this means Fab did not tell Goldman this deal was doomed. He either mislead his own company, or was clueless as to what mortgage collateral credit analysis entails. I'm guessing the latter.
It should go without saying that while the average member of a group may be uninspiring, his group may have an essential function in society. Your average anything is a hack, mindlessly repeating tasks that get them through their daily toil. That's true for scientists, policemen, businessmen, lawyers--everyone. As Sturgeon's law states: 90% of everything is crap. Sales hacks have the distinguishing characteristics of knowing a few key tricks about persuasion, and a superficial knowledge about their product that is most useful to those who are totally ignorant. Their pitch benefits from a certain degree of ignorance.
Yet I should stress that salesmen are essential for a growing economy. Amar Bhide highlights the importance of entrepreneurial consumption, those consumers who buy things because they are 'neat', like iPods, iPads, or Photoshop. A small minority figure out a way to make these create really useful services, and these ideas create newer innovations. The consumers are the tinkerers whose trials-and-errors generates useful insights that can't be found via pure theory. An economy where consumers merely read their product manuals and followed the directions of the creators, would not discover as many valuable things. Salesmen encourage this entrepreneurial consumerism.
The benefits of salesmen are primarily that they are incented to educate the totally ignorant about the benefits of their product. If you are totally unaware of, say, databases, you might not know that using MS Access dominates using Excel at some point. Without someone getting paid, the chances you get this education are purely a function of serendipity. However, if you know a lot about databases, you might find the salesman annoying, because he neglects to inform you of alternatives to his database, such as MySQL, that are even better. Thus, the ignorance of salesmen is relative, and their primary beneficiary, the noob, is common enough, and is made better off moving his 5 MB excel sheets into Access. Given the pedestrian nature of your average consumer, nudging him to enjoy something slightly better is much more common, and important, than top-end refinements.
My prior post noting their ignorance was elitist, as most expert users find salesmen redundant, but we aren't their primary audience, and their benefit to the economy comes from the way they have sufficient knowledge and incentives to make a lot of consumers, especially those noobs, a little bit better. The point about Fab Tourre is that if we are going to learn something about the Credit Crisis of 2008, his level of knowledge is probably not useful to that end, in the same way that a MS Access salesman is not the best person for explaining the cutting edge trends in database development.