Wikipedia--Dogfooding can be a way for a company to demonstrate confidence in its own products. The idea is that if the company expects customers to buy its products, it should also be willing to use those products. Hence dogfooding can act as a kind of testimonial advertising.[dead link]
I recently had the opportunity to present my product to the VP of Sales Support at a major insurance company. They had a legacy CRM system that had been deemed ineffective mostly because of sales agent compliance and were looking for something new. The VP had done his research: internally to the key stake holders, the sales agents, managers, IT department, marketing and HR; and externally to the insurance industry and even outside his industry.
His challenges were significant. The sales force in consideration was one that considered themselves to be independent contractors and treated sales reporting as a necessary evil at best and a waste of time at worst. The management team had lost contact with their customers, products and direction.
Based on his research, the VP came up with 4 key features that he believed were critical for the successful implementation of a new CRM system:
1. Primarily mobile based and preferably a 100% mobile platform.
2. Fast and easy for the sales agents to learn and use.
3. Helps the sales agents make more money.
4. Gives impactful and insightful information about the customers and the sales agents.
With these features in hand he did his research and short listed 7 companies who were then asked to present their products. They were the usual companies that we all know about.
At the end of my presentation he asked me two very interesting questions and the reason for this blog. His first was “Ok, so you just had a sales meeting with me. I want to watch you submit your sales report from your mobile device into your CRM system.” The second was, “I have had 4 interactions with you up until now and I would like to see the records of those sales reports in your CRM data system.”
The VP confided in me that 5 of the 7 companies could do neither of his requests; one could not submit his report but did have a record in his data base of the previous contacts. He eliminated those 5 companies immediately. His reasoning was that he could not purchase a product as critical as this without the company being able to demonstrate their own commitment and belief in it.
Weeks later I had the opportunity to attend a Sales Productivity conference and product exhibit hall. I visited 9 different CRM companies exhibiting their products all extolling the virtues of their software. I went to all 9 companies handed them my business card and asked if I could watch them create me as a prospect and submit a sales report against my contact. Not one could do it using their mobile device and several kept pulling me to their computers or asked me to come back later and meet with their product manager or IT specialist. As a side note not one of these companies contacted me later to follow up.