Monday, August 31, 2009

Toshiba EXCHANGE "5 Reasons it Will Fail"

If you hadn't heard Toshiba is set to launch their version of a Social Business Network intended for Sales, Administration, Technical and Corporate Professionals. Kinda like a LinkedIn or myspace, but just Toshiba MFP people.

Ricoh has something similar to this with their Aficio League, however it's more of an extra net site with videos, sales information, launch kits, pricing and I could go on and on. However, what the Aficio Leagie pioneered was a message board for sales people. In the beginning it was awesome, lots of members, lots of posting and then it got old.... to keep you up date the board is lucky if they have 5 new posts per month and there are a few thousand members.

Here's a few reasons that I believe the site is doomed from the start:

Ease of Use and Learning Curve! A social site like JIVE, is great for seeing the latest and greatest information, posts, blogs, and videos. But how bout if you want to research a thread from many months ago, or how about if you want to follow a thread from start to finish, it can be daunting to say the least and then you have a learning curve with with the site which can be so frustrating that you'll just never visit it again. Salespeople don't have the time to learn a new social site, they want info fast and will find the fasted way to get it. If I can't find my way around a social site in ten minutes, it's pretty much useless to me and I'll never go back.

The Numbers So, whats Toshiba got... a few thousand people across the nation, maybe a little more. Let's do some quick numbers and take 2,000, first they will be lucky if they get 50% to sign on, I'm thinking they will get 20% so about 400 people. Of that 400 people, how many will be active users, meaning they will have logged on once in the past 30 days. I'm going with 80 and out of that 80 how many will post information on a daily basis or share info, we'll now you're down to about 40 or so. So, that's like 10 salespeople, 10 techs, 10 admin and 10 corporate, that'll work right? While it's a great idea for the site, the numbers just may not work to have a viable board that will encourage users to share knowledge.

Censorship! If you've got a gripe on a product, don't post it on the manufacturers site, they'll see it as a negative and won't allow that to slow sales on that product. To put it in other words, big brother is watching and your threads or posts can be censored. Now, is that a way to share info?

Direct vs Indirect Channel! Members will be reluctant to share knowledge when they know that big brother is reading everything they write and sharing it with their own internal marketing department. Let's say you're a dealer and you came up with this great marketing plan for you Toshiba products, well if you post it, you can bet your last dollar that it'll be shared with Direct Branches ASAP! Most sales people will read the info, use the info and then not tell anyone else.

Who's Driving? If there is no one to drive the site, there will be NO PASSENGERS! What I mean is that you need one or two dynamic people to get behind the wheel and keep a steady flow if information, plus they also need to be cutting edge, someone who's been there, done that and can keep it simple to the guys and gals on the street. The last thing I want to hear is some sales BS from a DSM, Product Manager or a Sales Trainer telling me how to sell! Most of these people are in that position because they couldn't hack it on the street and weren't very good at selling.

The truth to the matter is that when you get right down to it, there aren't that many people in one organization that can drive a social site and make it a viable wealth of knowledge. I'm sure it will start off like a bat outta hell, however after the initial launch has come and gone so to will the members.

Now, if Toshiba is looking for the one dynamic individual that can make it work, then they need to call me. I'm always open for new challenges!

-=Good Selling=-

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