Daily, I’m inundated with emails, InMails, phone calls from sales people trying to catch my attention. Inevitably, at some point, a reference is made to the customers of the company that is trying to sell me something.
They always are the names of some of the largest, most respected or envied organizations in the world. Somehow, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Siemens, Citigroup, SAP, Amazon, and others are always cited.
Or sit in a conference room as a sales person goes through their deck pitching you. The “corporate ego” slides always include the “logo” slide. Usually it’s the third or fourth slides (after the how big we are, how many locations we have, and how wonderful we are slides). Again, these logos are intended to impress. (Often, though, I wonder how the same companies can be everyone’s biggest customers….)
These are always brought up to impress me. I am impressed, many of the same companies are our clients, I know how challenging it is to sell to them.
At the same time, since these people are trying to sell to me, my reaction is “So what, why do I care, what does it mean to me?”
The problem with those references is their businesses, their strategies, their challenges are very different than those we face. They are just challenges of scale, but they are in very different businesses than ours.
I wonder why sales people choose those when selling to my company or selling to some of my clients (When I’m sitting in meetings at SAP, the fact that Oracle uses a product isn’t necessarily a great reference.)
While these references are intended to impress, they are actually unimpressive. What the sales person is demonstrating is he doesn’t understand me and my company, he doesn’t understand our goals, strategies and challenges. It demonstrates he hasn’t even taken the time or had the sensitivity to think about what might be relevant and meaningful to me and my organization.
When I see an email citing those, it’s immediately junked–the sender has proven they don’t understand our business and have made no attempt to be relevant to us. When I sit in a meeting where a sales person is trying to impress me with these names, I stop the meeting (which saves a huge amount of time, since these ego slides are always the third or fourth slide.).
Engaging our customers is all about relevance and connecting with them on the issues most important to them. We demonstrate our credibility, sensitivity, and understanding when we tell stories or cite references that are meaningful and relevant to them.
I respect these gigantic corporations and their success. I respect organizations that have these as customers. But the fact they are customers isn’t meaningful in my buying decisions so stop it!