by Adam Dodge
A few months ago, Andy IT Guy (here and here) and Alan Shimel (here and here) engaged in a blog-vs-blog debate on dealing with security product salespersons. Having just returned from a great time at Source Boston, I now find myself dealing with the ever present post-conference sales calls. Instead of rehashing the points that Andy and Alan brought up in their posts, I thought I would spend some time listing out a few requests to all sales people reading this post.
Request #1: Donâ€™t approach our relationship as a sparring match
Let me start out by saying that I have no problem with salespeople and often welcome the information they provide. However, my time is not always my own at work. I have responsibilities that need to be attended to, meetings to attend and the occasional fire to put out. This means that there are days, and even weeks, when I am in and out of my office all day. If you call and receive my voicemail it is because I am busy, not because I am ducking your calls. Please feel free to leave a message or send me an email about your product. Whichever you choose, just make sure you do not keep calling over and over again without leaving a message. This type of behavior tends to sour my opinion of your company rather quickly.
Request #2: Respect what I tell you at a conference
Often at conferences Iâ€™ll see a company I am not familiar with or a product that looks interesting. Being a curious fellow, I often stop at these booths to find out more information. However, I am always upfront and honest as to whether or not I feel it would be a good fit in my environment or if there is a budget for this type of product. Please respect this and forward it to your sales staff. I understand that these conference booths exist to help generate sales leads and I respect that. When forwarding my information to your salespeople, do not tell them I am interested in your product unless this is what I have stated. My time is limited (see above) and I find it annoying to have the same conversations with salespeople over the phone as I did in person at the conference.
Request #3: Give me the data and let me decide
I understand the desire for salespeople and companies to highlight the major strengths of their products. After all, these strengths are exactly the reason I would want to purchase the product. However, if you are going to provide me with â€œproofâ€ that your product is superior to the competition, I expect to be provided with the data behind these claims and the context for this data. If you do indeed have the better product, it should not be that hard to provide this information. Do not offer vague statements and unnamed sources and expect me to welcome your product with open arms. After all, if I am going to use my finite resources to purchase your product, I am going to do everything possible to ensure I get the best product possible for the money.
At the end of the day, I need security products to help monitor and manage my environment. I rely on salespeople to provide me with information on their products, get me in touch with individuals inside their companies to answer my questions and to keep me up-to-date on new products that might be of use. I understand that you are simply trying to do your job because that is all I am trying to do myself. There is no need for ours to be an adversarial relationship. However, if you choose to approach the relationship as such, I will happily take my business to a competitor if necessary.