It was this sort of shared schadenfreude that ultimately compelled Michael to write this article. Well, that, and the opportunity to plug his new consulting gig, no doubt. But I think what follows will resonate with plenty of people who have ever spent time in our industry. Without further ado, I'll pass the microphone over to Michael:
Image credit: gfpeck on Flickr
"They" are the dreamers, the ones who are just as likely to invest in get-rich-quick infomercial packages as they are to conjure up self-funded, self-sustaining, high-volume digital signage networks without thinking things through. And despite more knowledge, more education, and more competition than ever before, they still loom, hoping to land a big money fish without a rod.
Some are easy to spot from a mile away. Others are wearing sunglasses, hiding somewhat in disguise under their chosen entrepreneurial hat of the day.
Nevertheless, they usually begin with an e-mail describing some big opportunity that needs immediate attention. The email quickly graduates to a phone call (or calls), where we start to see some of the telltale signs -- high volume rollouts. Rushed timeframes, usually in the next 6 months. No visibility with decision makers. No relevant experience. Ad-funded, without advertisers lined up or even made aware. Content as an afterthought. Funding ambiguous at best. Locations non-existent, but on radar through forthcoming sales pitches and expansion plans. Lead with price and the rest doesn't matter. Support to come from partners who haven't been contacted yet. And so on.
It's easy to know when to say no and simply move on when it's obvious that any of your time invested will yield a giant goose egg as your revenue.
But it's not always plain as day. Sometimes there's some merit to what you might think is a dreamer's Hail Mary approach, usually through a personal connection, inside information or indirect business parallel. To help weed them out from the realists -- on the most basic level, those who have numbers, timeframes and a story that make sense -- consider exploring:
- His background, and why he chose to contact you
- Where he got his information and what he knows
- Why he thinks he'll win the business
- Whether there is C-level sponsorship
- Where the financing is coming from
- What he needs from you to secure the business
- How receptive he is to your experienced suggestions
- Who else is competing to get the business
- Whether there is an incumbent, and if so, why they might lose the business
- If it might go to bid
Over dinner with a successful industry executive at DSE, we were swapping stories about how, rare as it may be, a couple of the larger deals we've seen stemmed from small business folks outside digital signage who were simply in the know, at the right place, and right time. Just as it is in the real world, people know people, and DS is "know" different.
Michael Arnett is an independent consultant focusing on sales and business development within the digital signage space. His company, Aurora Dynamic, is based in Montreal. (Aurora Dynamic is not affiliated with WireSpring.)