Top 5 ways to piss Mike off
As an analyst, talking to vendors goes with the territory. They are trying to pitch me on why they are great, and I'm always looking for additional data points to keep me in touch with the market and validate the information I'm getting from the end user side.
Most of these discussions are interesting, some even enjoyable. But then there are the ones where I want to slit my wrists halfway through and wish I had become more adept at gracefully bowing out and moving on to my next thing. I had one of those meetings this morning, and it made me think about 5 things that vendors do that consistently piss me off. This joker made every single one of these mistakes.
- Be enamored with your technology - This guy today was in the authentication business. And he proceeded to launch into why his technology was great before telling me why customers care about what they do. Before you tell me about bells and whistles, you are better off making sure I understand that there is a need and that I agree with that.
- Show me a meaningless demo - Once I couldn't get my arms around why his technology was different, he figured he'd launch the demo. Bad move. Besides the fact that the demo was crappy, I still didn't understand his differentiation. Any demo should map both the user and administrator experience. Show differentiation, make it clear how the stuff works and how it is integrated into a customer's environment.
- Name dropping - There is a high likelihood that I know more people than you do. So dropping names just annoys me. I don't care if a Fortune 10 bank stopped by your booth and is "very interested" in the technology. Half the time I don't even care about folks that have WRITTEN YOU A CHECK. And if you sell an enterprise product, don't make your customer references about podunk hospital of Topeka. I'm only interested in references after I get a feel for your value.
- Talking at me, not with me - I've been doing this a long time. You probably aren't going to tell me much I haven't seen before. Leave the PPT at home unless you are unable to tell your story (and then you should be looking for another job, no?). I like to have conversations, not listen to 30 minutes of you showing me crappy, incoherent slides and waxing poetically about how great you are.
- Not taking feedback well - I appreciate that a vendor takes time out of their day and talks to me. So I try to add a little value and provide some constructive feedback on positioning, pricing, messaging, etc. I've sat where you are sitting and I've pretty much screwed everything up twice. So maybe I can make a suggestion that will help. You may not agree with me and that's fine, but at least listen and be respectful. Let me make my points, you may even learn something. Ultimately, you may think I'm an idiot and disregard everything I say. I'm OK with that. But I will remember if you are rude about it.
Now those 5 things are pretty consistent. But what made my meeting this morning unique was the sheer lack of class this guy showed. At one point he questioned my integrity when I disagreed with him, basically asking if I was on retainer with one of his competitors. I'm not, though I do consider some folks with the competitor personal friends.
And then he had the gall to ask if what he was telling me was going to go straight back to the competitor. To be clear, an analyst with a big mouth that doesn't know how to keep a secret is not going to be in this business for very long. At this point, I said goodbye because there were too many potential weapons within grasping distance.
But that wasn't enough for this ass. He had given me a white paper early in the meeting. Then this guy storms up to me as I'm talking to someone else across the room and asks for it back. It's pretty rare that I am speechless, but this was one of those times. I was happy to give it back because it was going to be filed in the circular bin anyway. And any other response would have probably landed me in jail. But still, to interrupt another conversation I'm having to do something petty like that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
So the wonderful thing about having a blog is that I get to share these stories. And hopefully you can learn from my pain. Now I'm going to go enjoy my weekend since I've gotten this off my chest. I hope you do the same.