I once worked with a software company that was developing a new customer relationship management product that promised to put all kinds of helpful and useful information about customers right at the fingertips of everyone within a company. Sales people, marketing people, service people, and even product development people would all have access to customers’ profiles, interactions, activities, and other information. It would give businesses a true “360-degree view” of customers and enable employees to better serve customers (in addition to increasing sales).
The software company spent a lot of time, effort, and money on the development of the product. They also spent a boatload of money to market the new offering.
There were brochures, PowerPoint presentations, videos, demos, trade shows, and more that promoted this new product. They even got press coverage and attention from industry analysts. To be honest, all of this was very well done. They had done good research on their market and knew what their customers wanted. The price—while significant—was appropriate for the offering.
This was the product that was going to take the company to the next level. But they never sold a single unit. Why? The company wasn’t “eating its own dog food.” They were telling others about how this new software would revolutionize the way they’d be able to interact with customers. But how did the software company manage it’s own customer information? It relied on a patched-together conglomerate of Excel spreadsheets, and a wide variety of customer contact databases (depending on which department and individual was tracking the customer).
Nobody within the company could share information with anyone else. Marketing tracked and stored information one way. Sales used their own system. And the product development people had their own systems.
When prospective customers discovered that the company wasn’t even using it’s own solution, they stayed away in droves.
At times, one of the biggest challenges you face in trying to grow your business is simply getting someone to try your product or service. Let’s face it: Many businesses would rather muddle along with something they know (even if they’re not completely happy with it) than risk trying something new and unproven.
If you’re offering a product or service that you claim is going to make someone’s life better—you need to have first-hand knowledge about how it works. It’s one thing to tell someone that your product will cut time or expenses by 10 percent. It’s a completely different story if you can demonstrate how it saved you 10 percent.
If you’re not using your own product or service yourself, why would anyone else try it? You need to eat your own dog food before you serve it up to someone else.