Asking three basic questions of a small handful of social media measurement vendors should be an easy enough task to fulfill. Unfortunately, outreach to vendors normally means initial contact with someone in sales. And if youâ€™ve ever encountered a salesperson that will simply give you the short answers to three basic questions, youâ€™d be the first.
Nothing against sales people â€“ I normally do enjoy learning about their products, listening to the approach, gauging their confidence and knowledge â€“ but letâ€™s face it. If I had time to take sales calls all day, when would I blog?
Just as a reminder from Tuesdayâ€™s initial post in this series the three questions we are looking to have answered are:
- What information can I gather from your reports?
- How do you differ from other measurement services?
- How much do you cost?
My agencyâ€™s recent outreach to these vendors involved either form submissions or direct email to contacts listed on each companyâ€™s website.Â After several days of phone tag and coordinating schedules, we set up times to speak directly and had our initial sales calls with each.
All were rather predictable and here are my afterthoughts of the experience:
- An entire hour was booked to speak with each. Remember, we wanted three questions answered.
- In order to get to the answers to questions 1 and 2, we had to sit through at least 30 minutes of how great the company is, what clients they work with, how their software or database or something or other is â€œproprietaryâ€ or â€œpatent-pending.â€
- The answer to No. 3 was always preceded by 10 minutes of explanation.
After four of these hour-long marathons of attention-keeping, I decided to forewarn the fifth that weâ€™d like to keep it to 30 minutes, we were tired of hearing 40 minutes worth of stuff that didnâ€™t matter to us and 20 that did. While I assured him we wouldnâ€™t balk at the full hour since he was also web conferencing and illustrating the interface we would use and could thus offer him leeway, I told him to keep it short.
While the fifth vendor did, in fact, go the full hour, most of it the reasoning was because he engaged us with his presentation . He showed us the search result for one of our actual clients, illustrated the quality and depth of his companyâ€™s reporting and walked through some bells and whistles he knew we would like from my description of what we needed.
He took about five minutes to sum up the company, client list, CEOâ€™s funny started-in-a-garage story, spent 20 or so minutes showing us the basics of his user interface and top line reports, then opened it up for questions. Since we were web conferencing, our questions, were, â€œGo to that reportâ€ or â€œLet me see this feature.â€ By the time we were done, I was shocked we had gone the full hour, anxious to see more and nearly decided upon his service as the one we should choose.
So, the first post in this series illustrates the need for social media measurement agencies to employ a little SEO on their own behalf. My conclusions after our initial rounds of phone calls are that these firms also need to borrow a page from the very communities they monitor and engage their customers. Stop talking to us and start talking with us. Donâ€™t tell, show. Thatâ€™s what has the fifth company we reviewed atop our list to date.
Alas, when dealing with modest sums of money, my responsible and thoughtful nature overrides my normal trigger-happy spending habits. We are not yet ready to make a call on who we are going to use. Much of this is largely the result of input weâ€™ve received from many of you since the first post hit the SME feeds Tuesday. When one person tells you about 2-3 more agencies you should look at, you think itâ€™s interesting. When 3-4 people mention the same ones as recommendations, you make phone calls and enquire.
As much as I hate to entertain even more â€œtalking to,â€ I want to ensure we are going to get the measurement information we need at a price we can afford. Any further input you might have is welcome.
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