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Professionalism in Software Sales
Professional behavior isn't difficult. All it takes is following a few
Now: I suggest that you go to Robin Hood Software's home page and see just how well Robin Hood Software
fares on this test of professionalism.
- The customer is always the customer.
- Never insult a customer.
- Always be courteous to a customer.
- Support is not what a stallion does to a mare.
- Support should be easy to reach, via telephone or, if
the company cannot afford telephone support, at least via an
EMAIL address prominently displayed on the web site (such as
"firstname.lastname@example.org"). The customer should not be required to jump
through hoops to receive support.
- Support should be helpful, and should leave the
customer feeling like his problem has been resolved.
- Support should never insult a customer or be discourteous to
- Never mention a competitor in your advertising.
- Mentioning a competitor gives name recognition to your competitor
- Mentioning a competitor gives free advertising to your
competitor, allowing your potential customer to check with your
competitor to see if they can get a better price or better
service than what you provide
- In many cases, people are so upset with you dissing your
competitor in the advertising (it's very rude behavior, after
all), that they will actually say "If they hate XXX, then XXX
must be really good." It actually drives business to your
competitor, in other words.
- Never mention your critics unless someone else mentions it first in a
- Mentioning your critics gives credibility to your critics --
"huh, if XXX was lying, Snake Oil Software wouldn't be spending
so much time and effort trying to discredit him!"
- Mentioning your critics gives free advertising to your
critics. For example, roughly half of the hits to my
page are directly attributable to the Evidence Eliminator people
mentioning it on their web site, according to the referrer logs
kept by my web server. In other words, it causes them to lose
sales that they'd otherwise have gotten.
- Attacking your critics gives your critics that much more
motivation to sink their teeth into your heels. For example, if
Robin Hood Software had not made it worth my while to go after
them, the only thing I would have ever said about them was the
original ten-line note I posted on sci.crypt -- instead, I have
tens of thousands of words describing their (mis)conduct.
- Advertising should be calm, professional, and factual.
- All facts and claims in your advertising should be easily
verifiable, preferably via independent testing labs or other
such external sources. Otherwise you lose credibility, not to
mention the threat of being fined by the FTC for
Truth in Advertising Act.
- Good advertising appeals to emotion, but it does it in a
subtle way, rather than as a blatant sledge-hammer. Going "over
the top", like used car
salesmen are wont to do, causes a loss of credibility.
- The color schemes and layouts of your advertising material
should be muted and professionally done. There should not be
excessive animations going like the "blink tag from hell" on your
web pages, and your web pages should not do annoying things like
Less reputable firms do such things, but everybody knows that
those who do such things are, well, less reputable. You don't
see such nonsense on IBM or Compaq's web site, after all.
- By no means should you mention your critics or competitors in
your advertising material! It's bad enough if you mention them
in the first place -- it's free advertising for them -- but
you're going to PAY to advertise your critics and competitors?
- Communications between company officers and members of the
general public should be polite and informative.
- Company officers should never make accusations in public.
This makes them appear defensive and unprofessional.
- Company officers should always appear helpful and
informative while in public, even if their company is being
bashed terribly in the situation. If there are questions about
the company and its product, they should be answered calmly,
with easily-verifiable information, and without any attacks
upon the person who asks the question.
- Company officers should never insult people in public, no
matter how incited. They must always remain calm and professional.
This helps build credibility. After all, would you rather
pay attention to someone speaking calmly and professionally, or
to someone ranting and frothing at the mouth?
- Responses to situations should be swift, informative, and
should solve the problem. For example, when some Tylenol
capsules were laced with cyanide, the company that made
Tylenol apologized to the public, told the public how the
tampering was done and what they would do to prevent it in
the future, withdrew all Tylenol capsules
on the shelf, and re-released Tylenol capsules only after measures
had been taken to insure that they could not be easily tampered
with again. As a result of their swift and conclusive
action, Tylenol is still the #1 pain reliever used in America.
- Responses to situations should NEVER try to cast blame upon
other people, or try to escape blame! If a problem occurs,
a professional accepts responsibility, and states what the
problem is, and how he is going to solve it. Note that the Tylenol
people did NOT try to blame pharmacists, or distributors, or
other people, for the contamination of their product, even though
Tylenol did not themselves contaminate the product. They accepted
the responsibility, and executed on it. The world noticed -- and
rewarded them for their professionalism.
- A professional on the Internet is always aware of Internet standards,
and makes sure that his company abides by them.
- A professional company maintains the addresses required by
Internet standards: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , etc.
- Addresses for commonly-used functions, such as sales inquiries
and support, are prominently displayed on the web pages.
- A professional is aware of Internet attitudes toward
unsolicited bulk advertising, and takes action to discourage
such behavior on the part of his staff and affiliates.
- A professional never, EVER insults a member of the news media, and if
a member of the news media tries to contact them, responds within
minutes, not days. (DOH! Turn down free advertising?!).
- A professional tells the truth.
Copyright 2002 Eric Lee Green All Rights Reserved
Last modified: Wed Mar 13 14:37:59 EST 2002