Submitted by – James Nolan – ADLINK – North America IoT Sales Leader-
IoT projects can be particularly complex. Lots of computers or “things” speaking their own language, working at different speeds and being controlled, monitored or analyzed by some IoT solution (hopefully one I sold).
I had a project that I was very excited about hit some sizable hurdles on day one. The solution didn’t work. Attempts to fix it exacerbated the problem and there were two or three other hurdles that tested the patience of all involved.
Initially, my customer had a tone of disdain, frustration and didn’t seem supportive of how I felt (I felt terrible).
My parents owned a small construction company when I was young (small = they were the only employees) and my father took me to job sites on my days off school (I didn’t enjoy waking up at 4am on my days off).
If you’re reading this and you know anyone in construction, you probably agree that they can be pretty direct and hot tempered (if they feel slighted).
I remember seeing things not go right a few times during these trips and his customers were VERY direct with everyone when they were not happy. Was it my Dad’s fault? Who knows? What I remember is witnessing how he listened to his customers, dissected the problems and then fought hard for a solution without hesitation – whether he caused the issue or not (his customers appreciated that). BTW – their company grew to employ quite a few people and my parents have been happily retired for years.
What can I do now? How can I help my customer through this tough patch? How can I save this project? (These and other questions were running though my head at 100mph)
I’m not great at hiding the underlying message in my story, so you probably guessed how I helped my customer get through this:
- I listened to their problems and worked hard to understand the outcome they needed
- I dissected the problem
- Fought hard for a solution
We had hourly calls with the client and my office (who supported me without hesitation), shipped replacement products out within hours and even helped the customer with some additional (out of scope) engineering – just so they could meet their deadline.
It was pretty amazing to see how fast their tone turned from disdain/frustration into us having a sense of camaraderie or teamwork. They knew we had all hands on deck fighting for a solution and as a team, we’d get through it.
In the end, the problem had nothing to do with my solution as the customer overlooked a key-component (we learned that when they received the replacements) and this is OK with me/us. We all make mistakes. Our goal isn’t to point fingers or prove who’s right (or wrong) but to help our customers meet their outcomes and by doing that – we earned their