August 23, 2016

Are You Stupid?

I'm on the phone with a Vendor Executive. The individual, well respected of course and somebody that 50 - 100 of you (+/-) work with, is questioning a tactic applied by a client. The conversation goes something like this.

Vendor: Why did you execute the strategy you executed?

Kevin: Because we had test results, and the test results replicated themselves more than a dozen times. We knew this strategy was the most profitable strategy. The tests confirmed the strategy, over and over and over again.

Vendor: But it's a dumb strategy, and you know it.

Kevin: We tested it.

Vendor: But why do the opposite of a best practice?

Kevin: Because we tested the opposite of a best practice, and the opposite strategy outperformed the best practice in twelve consecutive tests.

Vendor: Are you stupid?

Kevin: Wut?

Vendor: Everybody knows my strategy is right. It's a best practice. I don't care what your test results and actual customer behavior revealed. I'm letting you know we are implementing the opposite of your strategy, and we don't need your help going forward. In fact, we're taking over the marketing function at this company. We're going to do things the right way from now on, ok?

Kevin: Fine.

Vendor: I just don't get it. Are you stupid?

Kevin: If you are going to make a change, make it. But then be accountable for the results, good or bad. If you are right, brag about it. But if you are wrong, you better be ready to call me and tell me you were wrong. Are you willing to be held accountable if you are wrong?

Vendor: I know I am right. I am applying best practices. Everybody knows I am right.

The data-driven people have it all wrong, of course. For if this were a data-driven world, the Vendor Executive would steal these results and apply them broadly across the vendor ecosystem.

When I get myself into trouble, professionally, it's because I have test results that threaten the way somebody makes a living. My weakness is trying to appeal to the data, a strategy that seldom works when somebody makes a living requiring the opposite outcome I observe via test results.

Such is the case with the Catalog Vendor outlined in this post. 

Ask your vendor if they have tested their tactics? Ask to see actual results. When you hear the phrase "best practice" thrown out into the middle of a testing argument, be wary. And if the vendor executive asks "are you stupid", know in the back of your mind that you have identified a truth at odds with what the vendor is selling.