I just got back from an international partner conference for a major Video Conferencing vendor. I go to a few of these every year for different vendors and there’s a definite theme amongst them.
Distilled, the main message is…’ we are the only game in town, every other player in our vertical sucks’.
They ‘prove it’ with the usual Consultant reviews and industry experts praise. Results of peer review websites are becoming popular. We applaud the vendors paying client that does the ‘On Stage’ case study and gets peppered with prepared questions from a friendly panel. We love the “ forecast growth charts” and the ‘without our partners we are nothing’ backslap followed by drinks on the lawns. We love data to support our business worldview and we get it at these conferences
And who doesn’t love the good ole Magic Quadrant presentation. Oddly enough, at each and every vendor event I go to – the host is always the shining star in it (usually in Visionary or Leader) and all their competitors languish further back in the swamp of Niche or Challenger. How does that work? Ive seen the same magic quadrant for the same industry several times now and the host always come out on top!
No wonder the buying clients are confused. As integrators – we are brainwashed into thinking that the product we’ve chosen to specialise in is just that much better than everyone else. The statistics prove it!
But do they?
So – how to decipher all of this.
Everyone has the stats, the spot in the quadrants, the case studies, the references, the awards in their boardroom (we have them all).
If I were a buyer, I’d probably look at the skills of the integrator. That’s where the Magic happens.
Unless you have a corporate policy around a particular Vendor or are committed to large $$$ contracts, be agnostic around specific vendors at first. Be very fussy about who you chose to partner with.
Things like technical certifications and experience working with companies your size and / or in your industry is gold. Integrators that have a service ethic will always be worth talking to. (Service companies always have more techs than sales people). Look at their relationships with suppliers, staff, other customers.
Companies that sell multiple products that would otherwise do the same job show a deep understanding of the industry and a healthy cynicism of Vendors blinkered self-view around their products excellence. A good integrator know what works and what doesn’t in your particular environment and has the external relationships to guarantee you get what you want
Notice I haven’t mentioned actual vendors? Quite frankly, Everyone is Awesome.
Just ask them.
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