An embedded BI software vendor that spends time and effort on bashing their competition isn’t doing you any favors. They have limited knowledge about their competition. But they should know a lot about their own BI product. So why are they talking about other vendors? Why focus on anything other than their own product?
Every organization tries to get potential customers to share information about the competition. That’s vital to success as it helps define what the customer wants and it offers clues on how to compete. But it should raise a red flag for you if probing questions turn into attacks against competitors.
Let’s take a look at some of the problems with an overzealous attack on the competition. And we’ll follow that up with some tips on clearing it away to learn more about a vendor – and its competition.
Reasons Why Vendor Attacks Are Flawed
Vendors are experts only on their own software. Vendors should be experts at their own BI application. They planned its architecture, decided what features to offer and continue to work out its bugs. What they don’t know is much about their competitors’ software. They can’t download the application to test it themselves, and at most have seen a video of a demo.
You know more about the competition than they do. By the time you’ve completed your evaluation, including demos and trials, you know much more about different competitor products. And from your experience, you know that’s not everything to learn. Only after integration and getting to deployment would you call yourself expert enough to make the claims a competing vendor makes against them.
They only know what they read on the competition’s website. Every vendor creates a website designed to gain your attention and convince you their product meets your needs. But if that was enough information to make a decision on which platform to choose, you’d never need a demo or trial, would you? Websites do offer good information. But until you’ve talked with an analytics vendor, explained your needs, watched a demo and/or trialed the platform, you won’t know all you need to make that decision. So a competitor is unlikely to know enough to support their negative claims.
Attacks take time away from your needs. Why waste time on the competition when the vendor should be learning about your requirements for analytics? A few questions about other platforms you’re evaluating can help a vendor get an idea of what you want. A vendor who truly wants to partner with you will focus on your requirements, not on competitors.
Tips to Separate Fact from Vitriol
Consider the source. Most marketing staff lack the complete technical background to understand everything about their own product. Making an attack on the competition can expose their ignorance when you start to ask questions. Make sure you know the background of the person delivering the attack.
Paid search ads on the attack. Don’t believe the clickbait headlines you read in paid search ads. Like those salacious Facebook posts designed to get you to click on them so even more ads get served up, they are long on emotion and short on fact. Claims made in attack ads don’t carry any supporting evidence. Vendors count on you remembering that negative feeling as you read more of their marketing copy that attacks the competition. They’re trying to fill your head with a negative reaction to other vendors. But they don’t give you any reason to buy their product.
Find reliable voices to learn about vendors. Read up on the experience of other companies who integrated a platform for informed feedback on review sites such as G2 Crowd.
Stick to your requirements. The analytics vendor needs to meet your company’s needs. Take every opportunity to ask them if they can meet your requirements, and how they manage it. If the vendor says their method works best, ask them to explain how that is true.
Look for independent experts like Martin Butler of Butler Analytics and Kevin Smith of NextWave Business Intelligence review analytics platforms. But be aware that if an expert you find dismisses one of your requirements, that person may not have the right perspective to help you find the answers you need. That person may be taking that perspective to reinforce an approach taken by one of their client vendor organizations.
Your Opinion Matters the Most
It’s your evaluation that matters. A vendor that spends a lot of time attacking the competition is spending a small amount of time describing the value of their own product. That may be a sign that they’ve taken their eye off the product development ball, or worse.