How We Choose Our Products
by Matt McDowell
The editors of HelloDirect.com 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.
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
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!
National Product Marketing Manager
Hello Direct, Inc.