As my first real post, I want to introduce you to a term I’m sure you well know – FUD.
What is FUD?
To quote the great Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt
“Fear, uncertainty and doubt, frequently abbreviated as FUD, is a tactic used in sales, marketing, public relations,politics and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative and dubious/false information designed to undermine the credibility of their beliefs.[who?] An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor’s product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival.
Fear – that everything will go horribly wrong if you use the other guys product.
Uncertainty – that a competitor’s product may not be capable of meeting your requirements.
Doubt – that your possibly making the wrong choice if you go with the other vendor.
A competitive “Land mine” if you will.
FUD is often a misguided attempt by a vendor to unfairly sway you towards their products and away from their competition – Almost every vendor uses FUD to unfairly target their competition and amazingly, almost every vendor is the first to cry foul when a competitor uses FUD against them.
Once in a while, FUD will have a sliver of truth, but the reality is; most FUD is developed from not understanding their competitor’s product, twisting a minor infarction or outright lying.
Most FUD should be taken with an entire salt mine, not just a grain.
Most vendors using FUD either don’t know what they’re talking about or they’re plain telling lies – either way; you will always be best served doing your own research.
I want to give you an example – I work as a multi-vendor storage integrator and on a daily basis work with many vendors and their products, not just talking the talk, but walking the walk; I help sell it (without FUD) and I put it in.
Now, every once in a while, a vendor will come and give a presentation about the virtues of their product; more often than not, they won’t be able to help themselves and they’ll proclaim Vendor B,C,D and E’s products are rubbish. – This normally happens with the new guy who’s not met me yet.
The trouble is; most of the time, I know that product intimately and I proceed to explain to them not to use FUD with me; they’ll of course claim it’s not FUD to which I ask” “What is your personal experience with said product?” – Almost every single time the response has been a very solemn: “None, but our internal competitive analysis program told us that.”.
Now, I don’t intend to be mean to these people, but I don’t appreciate being lied to; I feel they have no respect for themselves, me or their competition; a major rule of business is always respect your competition.
I consider myself a fair kind of person, so I will typically sit down with the vendors representative and show them that what they’re espousing is incorrect, demonstrate that what their company has told them has limited or no factual basis; and most of them appreciate it and cease using this FUD their employer has given them.
Unfortunately, some do not cease and continue to use the exact same FUD, sometimes even blatantly in front of me.
For one particular vendor, this went horrible wrong one day:
It was a pitch to a new customer, it was going well, they liked the features, they liked the value, it would fit the customer’s budget and all was going well.
Then the vendors account manager stood up and started to abuse the competitor, his pre-sales engineer proceeded to back him up and the customer stood up with a raised hand and said:
“Stop there; we have 4 of <competitive vendor>’s products here, I managed it for 2 years before I became the IT manager, my guy’s here manage it now, and the three of us know it well – You are liars and I have no more time for you”
(I paraphrase as the exact words elude me)
That was the end of the meeting, deal lost, customer lost and potentially many more like it, I felt ashamed by association, but couldn’t find the words – I knew the customer was right and wanted to agree with him – but I was so ashamed, angry, full of all sorts of emotions, that I could only walk away in disgust.
I was working for another reseller at that time; this was my first dealing with this particular account manager but not the first with this vendor, before the meeting, I briefed the AM and pre-sales engineer about the customer and warned them not to use FUD.
We often hear the phrase: “There are Lies, Damn Lies and then there’s statistics”
Guess what, of the things the Account Manager used benchmark statistics to claim the competitor’s product wouldn’t do X IOPS, the trouble is; the customer was achieving many times more than that – They put it in their RFI for goodness sake. It read something like “our current production SAN environment is operating at “Y” IOPS avg.; any offerings must be capable of meeting or exceeding this capability”.
Vendors will use performance benchmark comparisons as proof of their superiority; usually they will deliberately engineer the competition’s product to be slower than their own and claim it was fair and accurate – That this is how limited the competitor’s product is.
In my experience it is never even remotely accurate – It’s a despicable practice
I plan on showing how these vendors use this kind of tactic in my next post. It’s going to be a stinker!
That’s all for now; but as a parsing recommendation to any customers out there reading this:
- If a vendor starts claiming that a competitor’s product is inferior, do your own research, ask the competitor to take you to their lab and demonstrate and benchmark for yourself – then buy that one if it suits your needs.
- If a vendor show’s you competitive statistics, ask this vendor if they were the sponsor of this test, if so, completely disregard their stats and ask for a proof of concept from both sides to show performance, choose which ever meet’s your needs. (I don’t need to tell you this I’m sure.)
Good luck out there, fight the good fight.
Aus Storage Guy.