I love the idea of Salesforce.com! It is a perfect example of a “disruptor”, changing–practically overnight–the ways in which we think of CRM (customer relationship management), placing it on the web and offering a wonderfully scalable solution to growing businesses. And, of course, I love anything and anyone who challenges Microsoft. A couple of months ago, I signed up for their trial. I loved it but had some questions about how I might be able to use it in my day to day business. When I called and asked these questions, I received answers from somebody who obviously did not know the answers to the questions, promised to get them for me and to get back to me. I received a call back, yet no answer to my questions (I am still not sure that she understood my questions, since she made little attempt to clarify). Frustrated, I moved on to check out other products with far more informative staffs. To be honest, I run into inadequate customer service several times a day and did not fret too much about this single instance.
I keep coming back to the Salesforce.com product, however. So I called back and, fortunately, got another salesperson. He had little interest in what my company does (I mean, really does) and how his product might be able to help me, although he was interested in how many subscriptions I would be purchasing. He, of course, had no answer to that same questions, but promised that he would get back to me with answer in a couple of days. Then, he said this, “if I can answer this question to your satisfaction, will you be purchasing the product when I call you back?” He was giving me a classic “tie-down” question. For God’s sake, is this 1986? Then, I asked that he extend my trial for a couple of days while I awaited his answers. He told me that he would have to get management approval and to do that (yep, just like the car sales lot), and that he needed to be confident that I was going to purchase the product to do so (he actually used Enron and Tyco in his reasoning). The two or three subsequent conversations have all had the same tone. I am not being helped, I am being sold.
Nobody, I mean nobody, in today’s day and age wants to be “sold” anything. We are looking for solutions to our problems. If your product solves my problem for a price that I am willing to pay better than any other product, I will probably buy. Don’t care more for the sale than you do for the customer. The customer is too smart nowadays and has far too many options.
So here’s the dilemma: the product might be the right product for me, but what does my experience with Salesforce’s staff tell me about the company? I think I will keep looking.