So one of the parts of sales that will likely drive you a bit nuts as a founder is FUD and Counter-FUD. 

What’s FUD, if you haven’t heard the term before?  Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.  Winning a deal vs. a competitor by getting the prospect to worry about the competitor.  Often by stretching the truth a bit, or even a lot.

I remember back in the day DocuSign got really aggressive on this in competing with us.  The had a ton of FUD, and a playbook they’d hand out to all the sales reps.  Of top things to say to prospects to scare them away from using Adobe Sign / EchoSign.  Top of the list was saying our product was “illegal”.

Now this was 99.9% wrong, but rooted in a hint of something that made a hint of sense, as some of the best FUD is.  What was actually true is that there are certain disclosures in e-signatures required in certain scenarios, and we allowed more flexibility in the disclosures if the customer wanted based on which scenario they were using.  In some cases, we put the disclosures in the Terms of Use (not all, just some cases).  We had top law firms review this, and all agreed it was OK.  But we allowed the customer to choose in some cases how to opt-in to these disclosures.  DocuSign claimed this made us “illegal”.

Not true. But it did both create enough FUD to confuse prospects, and required us in some cases to do some explaining.  And the mere act of explaining can cause a prospect to doubt a vendor.

And if that didn’t work, they had a long list of other items on the tear sheets they handed out.

We didn’t do much FUD, but we did have to get good at counter-FUD.  And if you get really good at counter-FUD, in fact you can turn something vexing into an asset.  Because you can make the competition look untrustworthy.  We got pretty good at this.  In fact, many general counsels reacted quite negatively to a competitor wrong saying a product was “illegal”.  It was a big part of why we won Facebook back in the day — a reaction to FUD.  They felt the competition had misled them.

So we asked the other day how many of you see competitors lie in deals, and the answer was a shocking 93% (!)

So FUD and Counter-FUD aren’t just common, but they seem to be SOP.

So just a few thoughts here:

  • Expect FUD and Lies from the Competition.  Don’t let it upset you.  It’s a reality.
  • If You Are Going to Play the FUD Game, You Better Be Good at It.  If your reps can’t play the playbook, they lose deals for you.  Prospects will see through it in many cases.
  • Create FUD and Counter-FUD tear sheets, wikis, and training for your teams.  Even if you are anti-FUD, you need a playbook for when the competition uses it.  Both ongoing training and also key resources that are easy for everyone to look up.
  • Make sure everyone knows both your 10x Features and your weak spots.  A related point, but the 10x features (the killer ones you have that they don’t) are one of the best ways to play the FUD book well.  The competition will often claim “it’s coming soon” to address critical gaps. but soon isn’t now.  And when you have critical gaps?  Train the team well here.  The competition will pounce on them.

Competition is just part of SaaS.  Some categories have 1 big winner, some have a few.  But almost no SaaS categories are winner-take everything.  That means FUD and Counter-FUD will be part of the game well … forever.

A related post here:

10+ of The Top Mistakes Sales Reps Make … That Kill Deals (Updated)

(lies image from here)

Related Posts

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This