Recently I had the opportunity (along with my sales and support team) to meet with a prospective ISI client who was considering us for a multi-million dollar AV/VTC contract. The process for a company to even be considered for this contract started with an RFI (request for information) 4 months ago and then evolved into various additional steps that ended up with an RFP (request for proposal). After the RFP was submitted there were two additional meetings for Q&A and clarifications and then finally to the RFP contract review meeting. It was exhausting and I must say after 24 years in the industry, this was perhaps the most sophisticated vendor selection process I have ever been a part of.
At one point in the contact review meeting, things got pretty serious when the discussion turned to cutting prices on various ISI products and services. The client was pretty adamant about our pricing structure and wanted to make sure ISI was offering them the best deal and not picking their pocket. At that point in the conversation, the room got quiet and it felt like we were in trouble. Then I stood up and made the statement that if they wanted to pencil whip us and do business with a “low cost provider” ISI was definitely not the right choice and we might as well end the meeting. I also stated that ISI was started by an all-American entrepreneur (me) and we don’t price our products and services as a “race to the bottom.” Also, we had no desire or need to buy a high profile corporate client/logo to impress investors, venture capitalists, etc. My final remark was “if you’re looking for good pricing and even better service/support” then ISI is your best choice. That’s our brand.
After the meeting, every member of the ISI team congratulated me for saying “what needed to be said." I have to admit. I've had those thoughts about our brand in customer meetings in the past but this was the first time I literally came out and stated them. And it felt good. And isn’t that the point? If the owner of the company can’t effectively communicate your brand, what does that say about the company? Shouldn't everyone in the company know your brand and communicate it? Of course, they should and as the company owner, make sure everyone is communicating the same message.
And the best part of the story I just mentioned? After the contract review meeting (noted above), ISI got the call that we had been selected for the multi-million dollar project. Why did they pick us? Maybe it had something to do with knowing our brand and communicating the value of it.