Monday 8 August 2016

Talking to an antivirus company

And the company in question was mine.

Our sales department decided that selling individual boxes was too much trouble, they wanted to sell only big site licences. Individual boxes would be sold by distributors; I think Misco was one of them. Well, I'm no sales expeert, so I let them have their way. And once it was all set up, I phoned Misco.

"Hello?" I said, tentatively.
"I'd like to purchase,er, a copy of, um, Dr Solomon's Antivirus, er, Toolkit for Windows 95", I said.
And what happened next will shock you, as they say, and you don't even have to click on anything to find out.

What I got was a hard sell for Norton's Antivirus. They were switch-selling me from the product I asked for, to the product they wanted to push. I said I'd think about it, and grabbed our Head of Sales by the scruff of the neck, metaphorically speaking. And explained to him that yes, I do understand that the margin on selling one box is a lot smaller than the site licences he was going for, but before you sell a site licence, people are going to buy one or two to try it out, and I was extremely dischuffed at the situation.

You see, you don't find out what's happening from the customer poiunt of view, until you pretend to be a customer.

Another story. This was at an antivirus conference. It was late evening, we were at the bar, and I was there with a guy from Mcafee and a guy from Norton. The Big Three. And they were boasting about their exemplary technical support. And after listening to this for a while, it became clear to me that they were blowing smoke. You only make a lot of noise about how great something is, when it isn't. So I proposed a test. We each of us call our tech support people, and the winner was whoever was first to talk to an actual techie.

And remember, it was gone midnight. In the UK. Which meant late afternoon in California, where they were based, and all their staff would be in the office.

So we made the calls. David was picking up for Dr Solomon's, I got to talk to him within three rings of the phone (which, by the way, was our objective).

Half an hour, and a couple of rounds of beer later, the other two were still trying.

How did I know it would work? Because I would occasionally phone our tech support line, and if I got through within three rings of the phone, gold stars were handed out. And everyone knew I did that.

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