Lindsay Hill network control, visibility, management

Help Me Do Business With You

A good customer of mine needs to replace their Service Desk system. Having a fair idea of their requirements, I asked them if they had looked at $(insert very well-known player here).

Yeah, we tried to, but we just couldn’t get hold of anyone. We tried and tried, but we could never actually get them to respond to calls, or anything. The product looks good, but if I can’t get any response from their sales team, how can I pursue it?

I ran into a similar problem a few years ago, when investigating web proxy systems. It took me weeks to get a response from the vendor, and even then it was very patchy. I presume it was because we were still small at that time. Better outfits would have looked at our growth potential, and realised how important it would be to get involved early on, and scale with us. They missed out on a lot of business there.

Normally it’s the follow-up service that you’re worried about. Flash a bit of cash about, and salesmen in shiny suits and fancy cars are beating a path to your door. Once the cheque’s been signed, they disappear, and you’re on your own. But what does it say if the initial sales approach is non-existent, or impossible to engage with? What can I expect for follow-up service then?

Of course, a medium-large company here is just a small branch office to USA-based vendors. It’s easy to brush us off.

Only $20k commission for me? Not worth getting out of bed.

OK, I get that. I don’t particularly like it, but that’s why you have a network of partners and resellers. Can’t/won’t deal with us direct? Then push our enquiries towards your partners. Periodically follow up with your partners, to see how things went - make sure that your partners are representing you well. If they’re not, change them. Don’t force your partners to only represent your products, if it means you get stuck with one partner that’s doing a poor job.

If you want your business to grow, you have to make it easy for potential customers to buy your products. You may push smaller accounts towards partners - but make sure that process works! If we’ve got to battle to figure out how to give you money, then we’re going to go somewhere else. You’re not the only vendor in town.

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