FACTS Overcome FUD – and HAC, too.

My early product line management PLM career at Rockwell International’s Network Transmission Systems Division and later Alcatel was a “tough row to hoe”. My products were element-layer and network-layer management systems for telecom networks. For the network operator, these products were expensive to purchase, a little mysterious and esoteric for the uninformed, a heavy burden to maintain, and for 99.9% of the time these systems were nearly invisible and seemingly unneeded. Try justifying that purchase to the decision makers… It was a tough sell because there were so few facts to demonstrate a rational need. On the other side of the table, these products were especially difficult for me to garner funds for their development. I was severely challenged to show how much revenue my products would generate when our customers didn’t want to purchase these products in the first place. Worse, these particular management system products were “bargaining chip give-aways” to “seal the deal” if necessary. My customer counterparts and I were often in the most unfortunate position of having FUD as the only sales tool in our PLM toolbox. Measuring the real contribution to the bottom line for my products whether for us or our customers was impossible.

If a justification effort turns to the tools of FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt, any seasoned executive will recognize the “ploy” from a subordinate and is likely to reject the “amateurish” effort outright. And if the seasoned executive can, they will often wield the tools of FUD themselves on less experienced adversaries to disarm a conflict or force an agreement – FUD is fast to foist and often effectively glosses over many troublesome details.

I learned a number of valuable lessons from the old PLM days, and I continue to pass them onto my clients at every opportunity:

1) In the absence of facts, hire the best salesperson you can to sew the seeds of hope, ambition and confidence – HAC – to counter FUD. In a battle exclusively of metaphor and hyperbole, charisma wins out to justify a “leap of faith”.

2) FACTS overcome FUD – and HAC, too – always! It is always worthwhile to discover facts and master their presentation. Facts tell a story that FUD can not.

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