I’m often reminded of a scene from the movie “Boiler Room” when I see public spats between employees of competing technologies. Ben Affleck plays a young, wealthy and charismatic salesman who is trying to encourage the firm’s new employees to have a certain swagger about them. He says, “Act as if” and then gives some descriptions of things you can act like, for instance the President of the Firm. His point was that you should have a certain confidence about you that doesn’t need to be explained to people. It exists, it’s there, people know it, and you haven’t said anything to them about it.
Its not uncommon these days to see companies with generally similar approaches to solving technology problems have a public argument over social media about why one product is better than another.
Our product does 20% better at this thing than yours does!
Well, Our product doesn’t cost as much as yours, to do the same thing!
My message here is very simple.
Customers will be turned off by this type of talk from both sides. They’ll see both companies as lesser products that are fighting to gain whatever sales they can, just to stay afloat. This may not even be the reality of the situation, but it will be the perception. Here’s a question for you: Do you remember Apple explaining to people why the iPod was better than Microsoft’s Zune? Neither do I. Just be awesome and ignore the rest.
Now, you may say that your customers won’t see these social media spats anyway, so it’s not a big deal, but it is. These types of conversations spread and become part of your swagger. Having reasons X, Y and Z why your product is far superior to another becomes your sales pitch and that’s the wrong message. This is not an ideal that you would want floating throughout your organization.
Be the Lion
I’m very lucky to work for a company filled with really gifted and passionate people who love the work that they do. But one of the best things about my job is I don’t see people in my company that are running around trying to figure out how to be better than our competitors. We are always striving to do what we do better, learn new things, offer new services, and just be awesome. Maybe it happens, but I don’t see anyone in our organization talking about our competitors while in customer sales meetings. When we walk into meetings with customers its about showing our methodologies and our passion for those services. If we do this, the customer will see our value and that’s all that matters.
If you have so much passion about your company that you take to social media to talk about it, this is a great thing. But if you’re using this time to fight FUD, or sling FUD, then you’re losing the war to win the battle. If you’ve got the best product, it will show in your confidence and ultimately your bottom line. Bickering over details just makes your solution seem less impressive.