When I Love My Competition

I love my competition when:

1) They ask you to call their cell phone number on their office voicemail, especially if it’s important. Anytime a customer wants to talk to me, it’s important. Important enough that I forward my calls. (The technology is only 10 years old or so, they might want to pick it up).  If I don’t answer your call, just leave voicemail. I’m with another customer, if it’s during business hours.  One number to call: 877-VPNDude (876-3833). It’s simple to remember too.

2) They keep their customers on hold, and have a taped recording that tells how great their company is, or try to sell you something. If their company was really great, someone would answer your call. At the very least, play music. Then you can put them on speakerphone, and get some work done while they finish up with the other customers.

3) They don’t read my website. There’s a lot of good information out there, things that could make them better salespeople. Don’t worry, I’m reading theirs. I know all about what they’re doing. I know where I’m better than them, and I know where they’re gaining on me. I know their financial picture and what the analysts are saying about them.  If you want to know about my competitors, call me. I’d be happy to give you a braindump.

4) They don’t read your website. Or Google your company.  I do my homework. It is a priviledge to have the opportunity to spend time with you, and I like being prepared. I check your website, Google your company, and Google your name.

5) They leave a voicemail, but don’t leave their phone number. If my competitor does that to you, remember that my phone number is easy to remember- 877-VPNDude. If they send you an email, and it doesn’t have their number, again call me, the number is 877-VPNDude.

6) They are consistantly late for meetings. Most of us live and commute in DC traffic, and we know that even the best of us will sometimes hit a snag. Many of us have kids, and they get bloody noses or fall when we’re just getting ready to leave the call. It happens, but not everytime.

I give myself one hour before my first appointment in DC in the morning. If I’m running late, 95% of the time, it’s because my earlier appointment is running late. I’ll call you if that happens.

7) Who are late for conference calls. If you have a team of people on a call, and you’re waiting for a salesperson, it’s just plain rude. I am on a conference call 5 minutes before it begins, and 10 minutes before a Webex begins.  If I’m on time, it means that my last customer call has run late.  I’ll do anything in my power to let you know that.
8) They don’t love their products, or their jobs. I have never taken a job with a company whose products I did not love. Here’s why. Because I’d know I’d suck, I’d waste my time and your time, and maybe do irreparable damage to my relationship with you. I’ve worked with products that were difficult to sell, that I couldn’t sell, but I believed in them, and still do.

And sales… I love it. I love getting on the phone, calling you, educating you, having you educate me, writing emails, doing my newsletter and website.  I work a whole lot, but have unbelievable freedom at the same time. My job uses all my creativity, I never run out of things to learn, and I get to talk to my true bosses, YOU, everyday. And you pay me very well, thank you.

9) Who don’t fight like madmen internally for their customers, when needed.  I learned this one the hard way, and it won’t ever happen again. I had a customer, Abrao G. with the World Bank, who I absolutely loved to work with, but who was having some problems with the product I was working with. Abrao knows more about Linux and Unix than I’d easily say 95% of us, and he probably knew more about my products than most of my first tier engineers at the time. He had a problem that I escalated to the head of support, who just sat on it, and sat on it, eventhough I called a couple of times ot follow up. By the time I was able to get an engineer to help him, it was too late. I lost the customer

Abrao, I can’t tell you how bad I felt losing you, but I can tell you that I’ll never lay down for anyone when I’m representing a customer.

10)  They waste their time trying to sell products that don’t work for your organization.  Guess what? I am always trying to find a reason that I can’t sell to you. I’ll let my product managers know that reason, and if they can’t or don’t want to fix it, I’ll be the first one in the conference room who says good-bye. And if I’m in that conference room, you better believe that I’ve done everything before my first call to you to see if I can’t sell to you.

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