How We Choose Our Products

by Matt McDowell

Dear Reader:

The editors of have asked me to spend a few moments sharing a little background with you about how we choose products for our catalog and web site at Hello Direct.

As you might well imagine, the Product Marketing Department at Hello Direct is inundated with calls, product samples, and ideas about the latest and greatest telephony products and gadgets. We have expanded over the years from a small startup to a rapidly growing publicly held company—mailing almost 30 million catalogs and hosting an award-winning web site. You could only imagine some of the “stuff” we get! My all-time favorite gadget sent to us was a draconian device similar to a huge rubber band that you place a cordless phone handset into and wrap around your head. The pitch was that you could now communicate hands free. The only problem was that you developed a huge welt after having a handset compressing your cheek. And the rubber tended to catch large clumps of your hair when you took it off. OUCH!

The bottom line is that Hello Direct is really not interested in “gadgets” or “devices.” We are very interested in serious telephone productivity tools for our customers.

Our target audience is business professionals, from the guy or gal working out of the spare room in their home, all the way up to top executives in Fortune 100 companies and everyone in between. However you conduct your business, it’s important to us. We carry very few if any consumer products. We feel that individuals working out of their homes should have the same types of tools as the executive in the large company.

When you get down to it, as product marketers, our job is simply to assist our customers in their decision-making process by choosing only the best business products in any category. There are a number of retailers throughout the country that offer a tremendous amount of products. You can walk down their cordless phone aisles, and they literally have 60–70 cordless phones to choose from. Wow! What a headache that decision-making process is going to be!

Hello Direct takes a completely different approach. We research the product category and identify what we feel are the best 2 or 3 products (and believe me, we reject a lot more products than we accept). Then we have our staff of quality engineers evaluate the product to the manufacturer’s specifications. If the manufacturer’s specifications say a product will perform at a certain level, our quality engineers will test the product to those specifications. If it doesn’t pass their testing we don’t sell it. Period. Our testing function at Hello Direct is unique in the marketplace. Most retailers and distributors don't test products for performance at this level.

Once the testing is done, we train our in-house sales team. We ask everyone to touch, feel, and use the products. Many of our sales and product support teams even take the products home to get more real-world experience with them. They learn what are the best applications for the product and what it’s not really suited for. Our policy is selling you the right product for the right environment or situation. We even go as far as teaching our teams qualifying and conditioning tips so that we can set your expectations before you make your purchase. We want you to know exactly what you are getting. Only then do we feel comfortable with introducing the product to you, the customer.

But we are not done yet! We want to continue to support your use of the product. If you should ever have any questions or issues, we welcome your calls or e-mails. Your input and thoughts are documented in our database so we can continue to make better and smarter product choices. The information you share with us is also forwarded to the various manufacturers so that they continue to improve their products.

In closing, we really do your homework for you. When you buy a product from Hello Direct, you can be assured that it’s a quality tool that will help you be more productive in your business.

And by the way, all of us in the Product Marketing Department welcome any product input, ideas, or suggestions. Just no rubber band cordless phone handset holders please!

Matt McDowell
National Product Marketing Manager
Hello Direct, Inc.