I think I probably write this article about once a year and always get a couple of people inquiring – “Is it us?”. Funnily enough, those that do the inquiring are often the best at responding and the most efficient software marketers too!
It’s CTRM Sourcebook time and that means contacting all the vendors in the space. Often, there are a handful of companies where my contacts have gone stale and I need to try to chase someone down who can talk to me about their ETRM/CTRM software. And that is always an eye opener.
I mean, one works on the assumption that companies generally are in the business of selling what they have to offer right? Well, I’m not so sure actually. Let’s take one example from this morning. This is totally true and an accurate portrayal of what happened. I will keep it blind to protect the guilty so lets call the company ACME just for fun. ACME is a large services and IT firm that offer an ETRM solution. They have multiple office globally and thousands of people. So here we go…
First step – google the ETRM solution. I find a reference to it on their own website and so open the page. The page is full of their expertise and offerings in the utilities area and includes a small section – with link – to the solution I am interested in. However, nowhere on the page is there any contact – none. I open the link and it is a PDF brochure for the product. Fine and dandy yet nowhere in the brochure is any contact information whatsoever. No what?
Step two – I call the HQ that is provided under the general contact page. The phone answers and I begin to speak and then stop as I realize I am listening to music. After 90 seconds of music the phone is answered. I make my inquiry – “Hello, I am interested in a software solution that you sell and I was wondering if you can put me through to someone who can tell me more?”
“Yes, do you have a name or extension number?”
“Er no… I am trying to find the person who is responsible for the solution.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you. Company policy is only to put you through if you know who you want to speak to.”
You know, I have a little sympathy with this. No one enjoys cold calls but surely isn’t that what a switchboard is there to filter out?
“OK…. well, Im not sure how to proceed. You do sell software right?”
“Well, how do you do that if an inbound inquiry is met with I can’t help you?”
“Hmmmm. Good question. Well, let me see if I can find someone.”
“Yes, I am interested in a software solution that you sell and I was wondering if you can put me through to someone who can tell me more?”
“Err, OK, what software?”
“It’s an ETRM solution – that is Energy Trading and Risk Management solution…. for utilities?”
“Oh…. we sell one?”
“According to your website you do yes. There is even a brochure there. Its called XXXXXX apparently.”
“Well, its a big company…”
“Yes, I’m sure it is but how much longer will it be a big company if no one can tell me anything about products that you apparently sell?”
“OK, well thanks. I will try again.”
Back to the drawing board…. Ah, there is an offices page on the site. I look and discover only postal addresses, no phone numbers at all….
Finally, I discover an Austrian office with phone number….. Yippeeeeee
I call. They put me through. Its busy and the line drops.
I’m still trying to find out about this software solution. Perhaps its just a rumor that they sell it? I will keep trying but I am sitting here asking myself – Would a prospect have this much patience?
Answers please on a postcard to me at gvasey at comtechadvisory.com
Lessons for vendors
Clear contact information on web pages and brochures is essential if you want to actually sell your software!