No Soup For You!

    April 11, 2006

A missive from the “sales follies” department. Joel Snyder, from NetworkWorld, was trying to help a consulting client of his choose an email security system.

One of the vendors under consideration at the time was CipherTrust, and Joel was going to purchase a number of systems in order to evaluate them firsthand prior to making a final recommendation to his client.

Here’s what happened:

Joel: “The salesperson was ready to give us a local value-added reseller (VAR) so we could buy the $5,000 unit. But then he passed me over to CipherTrust PR, which passed me over to the vice president of sales, who passed me to a fourth person so we could apply to be a member of their partner program. This was getting ridiculous, so I explained again that I simply wanted to buy a box for my own company to use. This time, silence. No reply.
After waiting a week, I found a VAR and ordered a system. Then the VAR called back: CipherTrust refused to fill the order. Why is CipherTrust unwilling to sell me a box? I don’t know; they aren’t talking.

More frightening than my experience is the possibility that the company might do this to an existing customer. What good is a security product if the vendor refuses to sell you service on it? Without updates, most of these products are barely useful as doorstops.

In our tests, we look at products, not companies. Things such as training, finances and corporate style don’t come into it. But when it comes to buying products, our tests aren’t enough. It’s important to investigate all those peripheral aspects of the vendor before you sign a purchase order. I was reminded of that the hard way.” (emphasis added)

Here’s the full story.

Any other good stories out there of cases where a vendor simply chose not to show up?

(hat tip: mike)

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Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly.