Throwing Salt

I’ve never been to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). There were times I was visiting Manhattan once a month and Wall Street in general, but still—never been to the NYSE. So of course I was thrilled that the annual “Banking on IT” was held in the NYSE. Selected companies presented to IT executives f rom the banking industry, and we were lucky to be one of them. The organizers of the convention, the Chambers of Commerce, told us that there is a dress code—suit and tie. Well I don’t have a tie. Where I come f rom, you wear a tie to funerals. Na, just kidding. You simply don’t wear a tie. But I was happy for the chance to dress up, once in my life. Although I was constantly worried I’d spill some soda or cake on my fresh, good looking suit and tie. Imagine how annoyed I was when one of the participants went in wearing a simple polo shirt. So the polo shirt had the company logo. Big deal! If I knew that was allowed, I’d staple a business card to my jeans.

Anyhow, so we were a bunch of technology companies presenting in this huge ball room. Each company got seven minutes to present what it has to offer. Now, you can say many things about me, but if there is something I really understand, it is IT technology. And still, there were at least 10 companies there which I couldn’t understand what they were selling. Really. I listened carefully to ALL the presentations (not an easy task), and still there were these sales reps presenting their offering, and sometimes even the CEO or founder of the company, and they simply couldn’t describe what they were selling in a manner that I’ll be able to understand. UNBELIEVABLE. When it comes to sales guys I’m not surprised. Most of them really don’t know what their product actually does. The best sales guys I’ve met were selling shoes and encyclopedias before moving to high-tech…

It reminded me of a story a veteran salesman once told me. He had this huge account, and the morning of the presentation, he heard that his competition had a long presentation a day before, and that they had left the customer with a bunch of books about the product. So when the presentation started he said, “There are those that write books about their product. You should ask yourself why. We simply have a working, useful, product. Please allow me to show it to you.” He won the deal eventually.

A week before the actual conference, we decided that we would use our seven minutes to show a demo of our product. Simply show what it does. Isn’t that the idea?? I guess not everyone in my industry still gets it. I believe we should simply create products that:

  • Work
  • Do what they claim to do
  • Do something the customer needs

All the rest is just throwing salt in your customers’ eyes.

…and my guess is that they are itching already.