I got an email just the other day from one of our webinar team. He wanted to highlight that six different people from one of our competitors had signed up for the next webinar – some using their own names and others using aliases. He wanted my take on that, and I will get to that in a minute.
The webinar that attracted our competitor is on Account Planning in Salesforceand because we have established a leading position in that space, these webinars are always quite popular. My colleague was wondering whether we should be concerned about the fact that this particular competitor was registering for the event. It turned out of course that when we looked at the last three webinars we did on this topic, the same competitor was all over them.
Our webinar program is something that is highly valued by our customers. We run an event about once a month to share our thoughts around smart sales transformation. It is not uncommon for us to have more than 1000 people register to attend.
We try to make the webinars educational at the core, and where we have solutions that are applicable, we often invite our customers to talk about what they learned from deploying our solutions. We have found that customers generally like to hear from other customers, what benefit they gained, and what they might have done differently. Sometimes we will host all of the session ourselves and invite the attendees to engage with questions and comments. The exchange seems to work well for everyone.
Should we care?
Well in truth, I care, but I don’t mind.
There is no question that the competitor will learn something from the event that might help them improve their solution. But we have never been shy about providing online demos without registration for anyone who wants to take a look. In fact we have a whole YouTube channel dedicated to this. You see, in my view, our job is not to make our product better than our competitor’s product – in this case the bar is pretty low – our job is to make the best product possible for our customers. That’s why we exist.
I believe it is why we continue to have great growth year-on-year, in partnership with our customers.
And then there is the other thing that happens. In addition to learning about our solutions and the best practice that we have learned in the market, on this particular topic, our competitor will also learn that we actually wrote the book Account Planning in Salesforce, and that Salesforce itself actually uses Dealmaker to run its strategic account planning initiatives. When the competitor’s employees see what we do, they may even want to come work for us. (Yes, we are hiring.)
If your product inspiration comes from copying your competitors you are never going to have the best solution for your customers. You will always lag behind. That’s not good for you and not good for your customers. I know that in our case our product vision runs about two years out, is informed by our vision of the market, (in our case, mobile, smart, cloud, collaboration, interaction design, evolving demographics and revolutionary methodologies) and extensive interaction with our customers. That is not something that someone can learn from a webinar that is based on our current shipping product.
If you believe that you can hide the capabilities of your current product from your competitors, then I think you are kidding yourself. But more importantly it should not be where you invest your efforts. Your time is better spent talking to your customers and visioning their future world. They will reward you for that.
Innovation or inspiration cannot be outsourced and customer insight cannot be plagiarized.
We are hiring Sales Rockstars in the US and the UK. Please connect with me on LinkedIn if you are interested. It’s a fun rocketship!