One of the first things you learn in sales is to believe in your own product. Some folks call it eating your own dog food but the basic idea is two-fold. First, if you’re going to foist something on a customer you should be willing to be that customer yourself. Second, it’s a great way to do usability testing and in sales, it helps you discover selling points that may not even have been designed into the product plan.
I’m a big fan of the process and was really impressed when I read about what I consider to be the ultimate instance of belief in a product: one that literally puts your life on the line.
Now, I suppose one could make a statement that someone who works for a rock-climbing company does that when he or she uses the company’s pitons. No, that’s not what I have in mind since that instance is kind of optional. Instead I’m referring to this piece reported by Boing Boing yesterday of a guy who designed his own heart implant:
Tal Golesworthy, a British engineer from Tewkesbury, suffered from Marfan syndrome, an inherited condition that threatened to split his aortic root. After being told that he urgently needed a mechanical valve implant, he designed one that was better than the one already in use, custom tailored to his heart (as displayed on his MRIs) and used a rapid prototyper to refine the design. He received his implant in 2004, and 23 more people have had them implanted since.
That, my friends, is believing your own BS, eating your own dog food, or whatever you want to call it. So here’s my question to you: are you willing to make that kind of statement about your own product or service? If not, why not? Believe me – if the answer is “no” then your customers or potential customers know that too.
I can’t tell you how many presentations I’ve sat through for companies that were going to grow my revenues 10x but wouldn’t take 90% of the first year’s incremental revenues as a fee. Big red flag. Then there were the companies who promised great service but wouldn’t sign service level agreements that legally obligated them to provide that great service.
I’ve been lucky – I’ve always been able to look my customers in the eye and talk about products in which I believed. I’m not sure I could do it any other way. What do you think? Seen instances of either sort of salesperson – those who buy in and those who are just putting on a show?