LE Technology: Rocky DeStefano on Vendor (Mis)communications

Posted on 7 July 2011 by


Rocky DeStefano is friend of ours. A former Air Force intelligence guy, he found that his ability to envision order in fantastically huge datasets and articulate paths to sanity suited people well in such companies as ArcSight (which went public, then was taken private by HP), Decurity (which he sold to RSA), and NetWitness (which was recently acquired, um, by RSA).

Since the acquisition, Rocky is between gigs again, and when that happens he tends to get philosophical. Yesterday Rocky posted the article below on his personal blog at Visible Risk, and he was kind enough to let us reprint it here. If you’re looking at buying technology and/or dealing with the people who sell it, listen up:

By Rocky DeStefano

I’ve been in the shoes of the vendor many times and I’m sure any day now I’ll be back on the street representing a vendor and selling myself to all of you again, but as always – I fight for the user!

The following are direct quotes from some of my calls this week and some of the more interesting miscommunications that occurred (at least in my head).

Vendor Says: “We’re meant to be deployed tactically on critical systems.”

The realist in me hears: Our product is not scalable.
The hopeful in me hears: The product has yet to be tested enough in large scale environments and the engineers will kill me if I over-promise.

Vendor Says: “Our product has many applications”

Realist: The company lacks focus and doesn’t understand who they are selling too.

Hopeful: Pieces of this product might actually fit into multiple markets if combined with “x” technology – there are possibilities here. I just wish they’d pick a market.

Vendor Says: “We’ll integrate with anything”

Realist: There is no strategy around integration. This could end very poorly for everyone.

Hopeful: Flexibility is good for gymnasts maybe it works for products too.

Vendor Says: “Good question, yes we do that. That’s a good introduction into my demo”

Realist: No, No you don’t and here is why you couldn’t possibly do that ….

Hopeful: I’m not sure you actually heard me, but perhaps I can divine an answer from whatever I can grok from your .ppt demo. (ugh)

Vendor Says: We don’t compete with product “x”, we think there is room for everyone in the enterprise to co-exist and augment one another

Realist: You don’t understand your competition well enough.

Hopeful: At least they didn’t bad mouth their competition (yet).

Vendor Says: “We’re the first and only”

Realist: You’re not nearly as bright as I had hoped. Please do not waste too much more oxygen.

Hopeful: I wonder if Angry Birds could do a enterprise/vendor based spin-off – Angry customers would fling bundles of $ at the problem in a exhausting exercise of futility.

Vendor Says: “We lead the market in …”

Realist: I’m sorry I can’t hear you over the feces spewing in here.

Hopeful: Interesting spin your marketing team put together I wonder if they could come talk to my mgmt.

Vendor Says: “Both of our customers tell us that our competition is flawed because … “


Hopeful: You’ll learn to focus on your own strengths. Maturity is a wonderful thing.

I love the vendors that are just honest. My favorite quote comes from a previous employer ” We do what we do and we suck less at it” or more to the point “Here is what we do, and if you’re interested, here is how we do it”.

These vendor pitches should be conversations and not aloof presentations.

Understand that someone in your audience may actually care about what you’re saying but you’ll turn them off in an instant if you push too hard.