FUD; Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. More specifically for this blog, a vendor who attempts to discredit a competitor rather than speak of their own value. Be it with straw man arguments, comparing apples to oranges, or simply outright lies. I find the practice personally disgusting. If you cannot speak well enough about your product that you require speaking poorly of others, I’ll assume you have a bad product. It’s like when my kids tattle on each trying to get out of trouble, then I know for sure they did the deed I’m asking about. It happens every day, but I can recall a few cases in the storage world that raised my ire.
Years ago, a large technology manufacturer (of who I had many of their products, as well as their competitor) was pitching me on a need for net new growth. Their product line had been suffering in my operations, so it was not the front-runner. Rather than speaking about how to improve the situation, or how the newer generation would resolve the issues; they tried make their competition appear overly expensive. In doing so, pulled prices from eBay (yes really, eBay). Now, the argument had a merit at the surface, since sales are not privy to competitors pricing, eBay has to be cheaper than list price, or even discount, right, it’s eBay! I can see their line of thought “certainly if we’re cheaper than eBay than they’ll use us”. Sadly, the eBay prices were incredibly inflated, over current list prices, not to mention the discount I’d receive. I recall losing my cool in that conversation, dressing down the sales rep about FUD practices and failing to address our concerns in the new sale, not to mention our operational issues. To boot, believing we as the customer couldn’t do the basic math in a cost comparison. He was walked off our campus, never to return (seriously, did I mention I don’t like FUD?).
In another case, a vendor was telling me how their product was superior to their competitor because they tiered at the sub-lun level, telling me my product of choice would only tier at the whole lun. I was in management at the time and storage was one of many of my departments, so I have to imagine the sales team believed I simply wasn’t aware of the details. The detail being, they were comparing their current product to their competitors product of 2 years ago. Not only did I correct them on their misinformation, but since they sold other products I liked and wanted, I had the account team replaced because of that breach of trust (again, I really don’t like FUD).
Today, with social media, my witness of this practice is no longer limited to personal interactions. Almost daily I see a tweet about one product replacing another; and when the replacement is 3-5 years old, and likely 2+ generations, again my hackles raise. Especially because in many of these cases, I believe the product has technical merit. The bitter use of logical fallacy in comparing different generations, in the world of Moore’s Law, causes me to assume they are trying to cover up something. The approach erodes my trust in the people and the company itself that spread the misinformation.
If you are reading this and have an involvement in the sales channel, please, compete with integrity. Stand on your own merits. If your pitch is rooted in bashing your competitor, educate yourself and focus on your products positive aspects, leave it up to the customer to weight them against the competition. If the product you are competing against truly has issues you want to inform your customer of, leverage a reference customer to have an unbiased call.
You might just win the deal based on your integrity.