As a long-standing Leader in IT sales, with deep sales experience, I find myself naturally assessing different sales methods and have asked myself more recently, is it always good to be optimistic? Clearly, we like to think of ourselves as half glass full people vs half empty but is it always a good trait? When is it better to be realistic than optimistic? And when does outward optimism potentially work against you?
In the high-tech industry, we try to find ways to compare and evaluate the multitude of offerings against each other. It sometimes starts with spreadsheet where published claims are lined up against each other for a first pass review. But what if those claims are not realistic, or just manufactured to impress?
From a benchmark perspective do we want to always show our products in the best possible light? I can manipulate the test performance of a car to outlandish MPG results. I can pump up the tires so they’re rock hard, drive 40 MPH consistently and maybe even find a slight downhill road with the wind at my back and get results that are true but do they represent “real driving conditions”. The same can be done with technology benchmarks. Many manufactures put “ideal conditions” results out as if they can be achieved by all of the customers that buy their products.
At OpenDrives we take a different tack—we provide our numbers as “this is the minimum our configuration can deliver, but you can and most likely will see better results”. Rest assured our benchmark numbers remain industry-leading, amongst our peer. Is this a smart way to do business? We think so, as we would prefer to under-promise and over-deliver. We would rather not have the conversation that starts with “but you said it would do “X” when you sold this system to me”. These conversations, sadly, take place all the time and paint our industry and our sales teams in a bad light. Instead, we at OpenDrives would rather hear how delighted our customers are with the results and those that choose our solutions are complemented by their end users—their internal customers—on the decision to bring in the new system because it makes their job more enjoyable to perform.
Our published specs (speed, throughput, capacity, scale—normal metrics for the storage industry) are the worst-case scenario and not claims that can not be substantiated. If there is any doubt about what our system can do in your environment you will know it BEFORE you bring it in, not after. Have we been eliminated from consideration because of this? Most likely, yes. But the flip side of this strategy is that we have a customer base that is delighted with our solutions when we install. And on occasion we end up with an even more delighted new customer, who left a provider because they had been overly optimistic!
Optimism vs. Realism—each has its place.
I believe OpenDrives has a better way to set customer expectations and then outperform.