Large companies are represented by many people filling various roles to the outside world. These people are trying to accomplish different things. A marketing person is trying to create information that will highlight the company and give customers a reason to consider or continue with its products. Sales people are on the front lines with the customers, trying to influence them with the company’s offerings. Press and analyst relations people try to pass along useful information and increase the awareness of the company and its products.
At any given time, all of these people serve as the face of the company they represent.
This is no different in the storage industry than with other types of companies. But because information is stored for a long time, customers may not interact with storage companies as frequently. That means their impressions could have a longer term impact.
As an example, I was working with an IT director of a major company recently and the director was upset with what a salesperson had done in engaging the CIO of the company. The IT director did not have a problem with the specific person, but with the company. This director vowed to not buy a solution from that company for the problem we were trying to solve. It didn’t matter whether the sales person was using company-endorsed sales practices or not. A new barrier had been created.
This isn’t an isolated incident. I find that the negative perception caused by an individual can affect a sale even when the customer knows the vendor representative doesn’t represent the entire company. The customer might consciously or sub-consciously associate the vendor with one person, and the way that the customer has been dealt with may impact all future relations with that vendor. That could impact the customer’s ability to make objective decisions. But that is human nature and does require additional thought or effort.
The lesson here is that at any moment during external communications, the company employee must remain keenly aware that he or she is the “face of the company” right then. Saying outrageous things or taking a condescending attitude ultimately reflects on the company. It only takes one bad encounter to give someone a negative view. In the case of storage, this view could last for years.
(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).