Sometimes It’s Better to Shut-Up and Listen

Recently I attended the TM Forum Digital Disruption convention and trade show in San Jose, CA. TM Forum is an industry association for service providers (SP) and vendors in the telecommunications and entertainment industries.

 Not to do a disservice to any vendors participating (we are partners with many of you and know the importance of making the most out of these events), but it seemed to me there was a large disconnect between the current state of the SP environment and what the vendor perceive they need.

 For example, virtualization came up during one of the panel discussions and while it was agreed upon by both SPs and vendors that this is a vital step in the maturation process of the IT environment, the vendors were noticeably irritated that SPs are not ready to support this initiative.

 One SP simply stated the company wasn’t willing to replace its existing functioning infrastructure with something it wasn’t sure would stand up to the climate conditions of its region. Plus, it required a substantial investment, which would be counter-productive to its current situation regardless of potential future benefits. The vendor took no sympathy on the SP and proceeded to berate the company for not being receptive to this solution. The SP responded “that’s the way it is”.

 My company is also a vendor to this market and this publically aired disconnect was a valuable reminder of Vendor Marketing 101. Amidst the environment of ever-advancing technologies, disruptive solutions, and the fierce competitive drive to win deals, we can become disconnected with the customer. After all, it’s only a “solution” if it solves a problem or meets a need. To discover those problems and needs, we need to shut-up and listen.

Jon Martin

Softential Director of Inside Sales