My job at Mindshare has had a million incarnations.
Well, maybe not a million, four exactly.
I’ve been the only developer, then the senior engineer, then the tech team leader, and now I’m the CTO.
It’s a good gig, and as CTO, I find myself shopping a lot for clients. Shopping for technology and technology services. All the time. Constantly.
I have the process of walking an exhibition floor full of vendor booths down to an art. I can walk through a company’s offices and tell you if they’re telling the truth about how many people they have, how adequately they staff their support, and who they’re competitors are. Sometimes, they don’t know these things about themselves.
So when I screened this salesman’s product at the Direct Marketing Show in Atlanta and thought it was a dead end, I took his literature and told him I’d call him if I thought of an opportunity. I fully intended to delete his voicemail when I got it. Indeed he called me, but dammit, I answered the phone. I listened politely for a few minutes, and said thanks, but I didn’t see a fit with my clients.
"If you could tell me a bit about your clients, perhaps I could help you find a fit", he asked.
"Did you bother to look at our website? Our customer focus is detailed there," I replied.
"Um, no, I haven’t." I could hear his embarassment through the phone. But he wasn’t done yet. "If you could just see a demo, I know that it would become obvious the fit you might have for your clients."
"No, really," I said, "I don’t think there’s a fit."
"You know, many people are incapable of understanding the potential for our product until they see the demo. Perhaps if I could just show you…."
Finally, I got annoyed. "I’m the Chief Technology Officer. It’s my job to be able to grasp the potential for a product before I see a demonstration. If I saw every salesman’s demonstration I would never do anything else all day long. I’ll call you if I find a fit."
I think I was polite enough to say goodbye.