This last week I received a very bizarre email from a development firm. The email told me that they can get me to market faster with my products and they have top tier venture backing and they itemized a bunch of technologies that they are expert at that we of course don't use. Normally I would delete this kind of email but for some reason I felt compelled to ask the question. How can you help me really?
So I fired off an email because I was surprised that they didn't really spend anytime trying to figure out what we do. I asked the person who sent me the email, Bob Jones, to explain how they could help me. (Bob Jones wasn't the name used but it was a similar generic sounding Anglo name).
Bob fired off another marketing speak email that was equally as useless as the previous one but he asked me to just take 10 minutes to talk with him and his VP and he could explain. I thought to myself that he should probably take 10 minutes and figure out how he can help me before I did that but I sighed heavily and picked up the phone. I called Bob. Bob answered and I was surprised to hear that he had a distinctly Indian accent. Bob Jones? Now I have to say that we have worked with outsourcing companies in the past and liked some things about it and didn't like some other things. You know, kind of like family and friends. You get some good and you get some bad. In the future if it makes sense I am more than happy to send work where it makes sense.
I resisted the urge to ask Bob what his real name was and we spoke for a while. They did in fact have some ways they might be able to help me but he told me he was just an inside sales guy and he needed me to speak with his VP. I told him that I would get back to him when I have some time.
I forgot about this until I was driving from San Francisco to Silicon Valley today and Bob called me. I told him to have his VP call me ASAP and that I would chat with him. We had a friendly chat and I am not sure if there is something to do with them or not but I told him that I didn't think Bob was his real name. He laughed and said that in fact it wasn't. I told him that I thought it was pretty strange to me that he would say that was his name when he had a pointed accent. I wouldn't have been any more or less inclined to speak with his company and that I thought it reflected poorly on them that they would do that. We have several Indian and Chinese employees in my company and I can't imagine ever encouraging them to go by the name Richard or Sally or frankly anything other than their real name. Hell, my last name is pretty ethnic.
In an world where the global borders are getting smaller, engaging customers in real conversations and getting them to understand each other as who they are seems like a better goal to doing business and creating real relationships instead of playing silly marketing games that are transparent. All that said I think this company is a fine company but I would hope that in the future they think twice before leaving a lasting impression like they did with me today.