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March 31, 2010

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Iain

This is one of the most frustrating parts of my role, I'm a Virtualisation Sales Consultant, and spend the majority of my time wading through the FUD from MS, VMware, Citrix, HP, IBM, NetApp, EMC.... the list goes on.

I will ONLY sell on the positives of any product stack, and the positives of my own company (I work for an International reseller within the UK), but still regularly come across FUD directly from the vendor account managers.

I usually end up getting more buy in from the customers due to my perceived vendor agnostic stance, and by emphasising that no matter what the vendors say, there are use cases for most of the vendors (yes, even Hyper-V).

However, I will re-iterate, the FUD does nothing to enhance a Vendor's position within a company, and it usually damages the credibility they once had within a customer when a neutral party steps in and discusses BENEFITS.

If you keep coming across the same people trucking it, just ignore the FUD, focus on the facts, and sometimes you have to bite the bullet that in some cases your product / solution won't meet the needs of a particular customer. You'll have a lot more future credibility that someone who focuses on the negative constantly.

How long do you think FUD slinging will answer a customer's question when he needs real facts and figures...

Thanks for the blog btw!

duncan

Maybe you can recreate the slide?

Chrisdbirdwell

Thank goodness most vendors and reps resort to FUD. If they didn't, it would be much harder to differentiate yourself as an advocate and "trusted advisor" for your customer. Every solution has it's strengths and weaknesses FOR THE CUSTOMER'S NEED. Embrace your solution's strength and be upfront about any weakness based on your customer's needs. My favorite thing to say to my customers is/was "I am not here to sell you something today, I am here to be your business partner for years." Being honest and staying above the FUD slinging will win out in the end.

stewey

Chad,
I'm with you. We've met before and I have to say that I very much respect your attitude. Your 'bias' towards a solution, is based on the facts and not just because you work for EMC. FWIW, your attitude is spread broadly within the non-block (aka SAN) side of EMC. There's a clear respect for competitive solutions. However, I can't say that it goes beyond that very far. There's a well known EMC blogger whose sole job seems to be nothing but to toss FUD...

Itzik Reich

I guess that the reason FUD is so popular is due to the fact that (too) often the sys admin being presented with the FUD doesn't have the time to follow up on these type of lists which could score the competitor extra points but the risk associated with this (like you explained) is that upon "catching the liar", he/they will loose all the credability...in any case, comparison sheets will never vanish..everyone are using them (VMware Vs MS Vs Citrix)..

personally speaking i think that if someone try so hard to FUD you = your'e probably doing something really good !

Storagezilla

Their battle against the truth extends beyond the technical and into upper management.

"IBD: You've joined with Cisco Systems (CSCO) and VMware (VMW) to jointly sell virtualized storage systems. How did that come about?

(CFO Steve)Gomo: It gets back to what Cisco is trying to do. They are entering the server business and riding the disruptive wave of virtualization to do that. They needed VMware to conduct this successfully. They were going to use EMC (EMC). But they turned to NetApp. We have such an advantage in a virtualized environment and VMware is a close partner of ours (though EMC owns an 80% stake in VMware)."

So NetApp are also telling the press Cisco chose NetApp over EMC for VMware.

I'd imagine Cisco wouldn't agree with that.

Miguel Miranda

Chad, beside recreating the slide, like @duncan commented, "you" should even create a "Myth Buster" demo.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Chad

I think I understand the motivation here.

When you're essentially a single-product company, you live and die by that product.

Your product *has* to be the answer to what ails the world, and all others must be wrong, evil, misguided, etc.

Conversely, if you're a vendor who happens to have the luxury of a broader portfolio, you can afford to be a little more accommodating of different perspectives.

You can talk more in terms of solutions, use cases and strategies rather than simple feature/benefit comparisons.

Put differently, I don't think NetApp (or any other single product vendor) has any real choice but to defend their perceived turf through whatever means necessary, however repugnant some of us might find it.

When someone comes knocking on my door to discuss religion, I realize it's not an intelligent conversation on comparative ideologies they're after :-)

-- Chuck

Mike Laskowski

Sounds like NetApp is following the Microsoft marketing strategy on Hyper-V being so much better and cheaper then VMware NOT!!! But overall I am becoming a big fan of NetApp but that’s BS.

Thanks
Mike Lakowski

Dave B

Waving the customer flag...

The bit I resent about fud is the implication that I'm stupid - incapable of checking out stuff myself.

I wonder if any other customers here feel the same?...

akops

As a customer when i read blog/sites with that kind of FUD i just lose my confident first to the engineer who wrote that and secondly to the company that tolerates such behavior on an company blog.

The key point here is that when you want to buy hardware like that, you have to search by your own the technical capabilities of each vendor(by reading manuals) and compares the products that you like most or if cant do it by your own, assign it to someone that you trust and has experience in such things.

Steve P

@Dave B - Same boat here. We are an otherwise happy NetApp customer, and I facepalm every time I read this sort of thing.

Chad Sakac

@Duncan @Miguel - I hate responding in kind, but I guess I have to create a table. I've also produced demo videos of most of the errors I pointed out both on the August and the March posts on the blog, but I think maybe I need to package up all the demo videos refuting the points one by one. Sigh.

Keith Norbie

Huh, I was at that VMUG and must have missed him presenting that slide. Good catch. BTW, excellent hire in David Payne! He's strong with the force.

Martin G

Everybody knows how I feel about FUD; so thankfully, I don't get that much presented to me personally these days. As I've said a number of times, if you spend too much time talking about a competitor's product and no time talking about your own....I'm going to get real interested in the product you seem to be spending all your energy on.

Don't worry about the competitor's product; present your own in the best light.

Don't put at charts comparing feature by feature because I'm going to assume that the other guy can put together another chart showing what you are missing.

Answer my questions, not the ones you want to answer.

Solve my problems, don't tell me why the other guy can't solve them.

Learn to listen and not just to hear.

Define your company and your value in terms that have meaning.

Chad Sakac

@Martin G - wise words man, wise words....

Sadly, I think many people like FUD. If everyone felt the way you did (and I do), then it would be extinct...

Vijay Swami

I'm involved in a lot of sales campaigns in the field, so I'll offer a slightly different perspective.

Deals are won and lost for a variety of reasons (politics, relationships, technical, customer comfort level in the company, the support given during the sales cycle, etc). As engineers, we'd like to think that all customers make decisions purely based on the technical merit of a product, however that is generally NOT the case. Sometimes despite positioning a technically superior solution, you still lose. Sometimes despite being a technically inferior solution, you still win. The percentage of deals won/lost PURELY due to technically are lower than most people would think. Now, I'm not saying technical is not important, it is....but my point is simply that while FUD is wrong, and discredits an organization, not many deals are affected by it. Have there been any multi-million dollar deals lost because of a blog post? Because of an incorrect / misleading chart? I'd venture to say no, at least I have never seen it.

I also agree with not "slamming the competition", but I'd also say that if you don't understand the competitive landscape, and aren't able to differentiate your product from the rest, you haven't done a complete job. From a field sales standpoint, I agree that it is very important to focus on the merits of your own solution, however....it is also very important to know thy enemy (enemy is a strong word, but you get my point) and be able to ACCURATELY (key word!) differentiate yourself from the competition. Every business out there is trying to maintain their edge in the market, this is no different. However, this is a lot different than blatant misrepresentation, and a lot different than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Its not totally black/white, but I think it is equally important to understand the competition.

Just my 2 MB.

Chad Sakac

@Vijay, I totally agree with:

1) There's far more to winning (and even a happy customer) than just technology.

2) that understanding your competition, and learning/adapting and coopting innovation (and innovation occurs everwhere) is VERY important.

Sticking one's head in the sand is a BAD, BAD idea.

My beef is when a competitor directly compares via these stupid charts (particularly when they are demonstratably WRONG, and you've even done the courtesy of correcting them). The other thing that just drives me up the wall is when it's not prompted by the customer, or the context.


I guess I need to develop a thicker skin :-)

Vaughn Stewart

Chad,

Wow - thanks for the misrepresentation of my credibility and of the capabilities of EMC technology while you knew I was on vacation. Who does that?

I take on every one of your criticisms regarding EMC vCenter integration here: http://blogs.netapp.com/virtualstorageguy/2010/04/blogging-with-integrity.html

Chad Sakac

@Vaughn, apologies that this hit while you were on vacation.

To be clear, I just saw red when I saw the VMUG deck, and spaced out that you were on vacation (as you can imagine, I have a lot of balls in the air - heck I forget when my vacation is). It would have been kinder had I consciously thought about it to wait a week until you came back.

I **DON'T** apologize for the point, which is the table is incorrect, continues to be incorrect, and will continue to be incorrect (just like anything any vendor says about a competitor - same applies to EMC in the other direction).

I also re-iterate my point - NO ONE benefits when vendors slag each other. In fact, the one doing the slagging tends to lose credibility, because people just don't LIKE that (see two NetApp customers' comments above to that effect).

There's nothing I can do to stop you from making those comparisons, and for everything you are right on, you'll be wrong on one, and miss one. I don't think that's good for you, or for NetApp.

(and BTW, I'm happy to drive up your hitcount, everyone likes drama - sadly - my response to your comments is likewise on your post)

Sigh. Is this really the best thing we can do with our time? Do you LIKE doing this? Man, I personally find it repugnant. I'd much rather actually use the tech, and try to make people's lives a little bit better.

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