Author Archive

Exploring a business relationship shouldn’t be this hard!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

We recently decided to explore a reseller relationship with a specialty software company. As an OEM partner to SAP, we have some experience with this type arrangement. The sought after relationship in this case would have us purchasing a software product in some volume from the prospective ‘partner.’ Having narrowed the field to a couple of likely software companies, I set out to gather information to support a decision. Sounds easy enough, right?

I placed a phone call to the first software company on my list and was promptly greeted by a call routing feature that didn’t provide an option to address my need. In these instances I always choose sales (hoping for a motivated member of the company).

The friendly sales person said that she could not help me, that I would need to fill out a form, and that I would have to provide other documentation (tax certificates, advertising materials, etc.) via FAX to their channel management department. This was before any conversation about the potential business fit between our two companies, and apparently based on the fact that I was asking about a relationship versus how to directly purchase their product. I grudgingly complied (well, I bent the rules and sent scanned docs via email).

Two days later I received a phone call from a fellow in Channel Management. After my detailed description of our need (and our mutual opportunity) he told me that I would need to establish a relationship with one of their distributors. He was kind enough to provide contact information.

I sent the distributor an introductory email explaining our need, along with a link to our website for context, and asked him to call me when convenient. What I got back was an email telling me that he could not help me directly, but that a sales representative from their company would be able to talk with me after I submitted the following:
• A completed Customer Application
• Bank reference information
• Credit references
• Sales and Use Tax Certificates
• Our “latest two (2) fiscal yearend financial statements”

His email was specific about not being able to talk about pricing until this information was provided. Again, this is before any conversation about the potential relationship fit.

My next step – write this post to let off a little steam. I want to explore an opportunity, and I’m running into administrative obstacles very early in the process. It’s this type of resistance that causes me to move on to the next software company in hope of a better experience – a potential loss for the once first-place candidate.

Now I’m asking those around me what we do to make it difficult for potential customers and partners to connect with our organization. I want to believe that the answer to that is ‘nothing,’ and I bet that’s what leadership in these two organizations would say if asked. I hate to miss opportunities at my front door, especially given the investment made to develop sales leads.

Share

Patriotism is alive and well where I stand this Veterans Day.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I just returned to my desk from the cafeteria in our office building where more than 100 people from multiple companies spent 45 minutes in recognition of this Veterans Day. We gathered to pledge allegiance to our flag, sing our national anthem, spend time in silence for those who have fallen in service to our country, recognize the veterans in the room and those actively serving today, hear from a Major assigned to The 34th Red Bull Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard (http://www.theredbulls.org/), and close the ceremony singing God Bless America.

The event was sponsored by Country Financial, the owner and major tenant of our office building. This is a practice they’ve had for years, but new to me since we just relocated our offices here. I haven’t experienced or felt that concentration of intentional patriotism for far too long. It feels good. Hats off to Country Financial, and to all who have served, or are currently serving, in our military forces.

Share

There’s no such thing as junk mail – part two?

Friday, October 16th, 2009

As I was preparing to write the follow up to my earlier post There’s no such thing as junk mail, I learned that one of our recently hired Account Reps had drafted his own post on the topic. Previewing his forthcoming contribution, I decided to scrap my follow up and to let his “conversion story” drive home the point. Watch for Joel’s post.

Share

There’s no such thing as junk mail…

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Try this experiment. Walk up to any group of people who don’t work in the world of direct marketing and attempt to complete this sentence: “There is no such thing as junk mail, only misdirected information.” If you get past the comma’s pause in this phrase, without being interrupted, there’s a good chance that nobody’s listening to you. I’ve tried this myself. On the rare occasion that I’ve gotten the whole sentence out before being verbally accosted, I still had to contend with looks that conveyed something like “are you for real?”

More often I use this phrase to educate those outside our industry. It happens something like this. Attending a gathering where people are getting to know one another, business or otherwise, the inevitable question is asked: So, what do you do? I work with a company that supports the direct marketing industry by providing address hygiene, enhanced contact information, and other data management services. Huh? Well, our company helps anyone who wants to deliver a message to a particular audience reach that audience with greater accuracy and in the most cost effective manner possible. Hmmm… can you give me an example? Well, a simple example might be the postcard you receive for a $16.95 oil change special at the service station near your home. Oh – you send out junk mail! Not exactly, you see we believe that “there is no such thing as junk mail, only misdirected information.”

With all of the forces at play in direct mail marketing today, from the green movement to the cost of print and postage, there’s every reason to expect that smart direct mail campaigns will employ every possible means to reduce or eliminate so called “junk mail.”  In my next post I’ll write more about how we can influence the perception, and the experience, of consumers who bristle at the suggestion that there is no such thing as junk mail.

Share

Welcome to the inaugural post of Lorton Data’s blog!

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I’m kicking off this effort, but others will be contributing regularly. We hope that this forum develops into a robust community of readers and contributors. Topics posted here will generally be related to Direct Marketing and Data Management.

We expect the personality of our company to be reflected in these pages as various members of our team contribute. Opinions expressed here may not always reflect the official position of the company, but that’s what blogs are for – a place to share news, ideas, and differing views on relevant topics.

I look forward to the dialogue that can develop here.

Regards!

Share