Too early is the worst than to be to too late.
When I was beginning my “adventure” into the market of vehicle sales in South Africa, I had to deal with a complete lack of education of my potential clients in the internet sector generally. Any attempt to convince a car dealer to try our service, even if free of charge, was ending up in complete failure.
Dealers would tell me:
“I am running my business for about 30 years. I know everybody around, and everybody knows me. I have paid a lot of money to the best IT company in South Africa to make my own website. And then you bloody “Russian”, who cannot even speak proper English, are coming to me and telling me that I am stupid, and that I don’t know to run my business?”
What could I say in return, considering the fact that I am not even Russian, and that they were really very uneducated about how the internet really works. They strongly believed, that by paying “big bucks” for their own website, this was good enough to make their company successful on the web. And given the fact that there was nothing to compare with - they were quite happy, and any attempt to educate them a little bit more was taken by them as an insult.
In 2006, my technology was really revolutionary in the South African market, and on the way to success stood only two things: very conservative customers, and corporate corruption in big companies. There are many informational materials on the web about South African conservative mentality, so no need for me to repeat this here. They are people who do not attach importance to being punctual, can never say no, they will always “think about it” and always do it with such unrealistic politeness.
The corruption present in big vehicle sales companies looked like this:
“I am not sure what you are saying here, let me ask what our IT department thinks about it”
Do you think that an IT department for a dealership company would actually would agree to buying IT services from another company, even if my concept is infinitely better? Of course not. That would make them all unemployed. And looking at all this from within and understanding the underpinnings of what is happening - I could not handle my emotions and become irate with my potential customers, which were standing behind the backs of such “IT departments” and did not want to listen to any arguments, which I believed to be unfair.
Having a great success online - I failed on the field however, due the human factor and mentality difference, which I had not previously considered a serious threat to my business before. Therefore I have been forced to leave all operations of the ground, and to dedicate myself strictly on online maintenance of the business, by leaving offline operation to my local partners, who went to the extent of prohibiting me to talk to any of their client directly :)
Remember! I am talking about 2006, when not all dealers had even electricity on their yard, not to mention a PC or an internet connection, many of them were still using calculators. Therefore 90 % of effort and resources we were spending on education of our potential customers, instead of development and marketing of our project online. The experience of trying to educate some potential customers by myself, versus employing people we found in “Gumtree”, whom we offered a small salary, commissions and sent them to the field without much training and knowledge of the concept. And for this reason, what could have been done by me personally in half a year, salaried personnel took five years to achieve, which affected the reputation of the whole of our enterprise campaign and the success of the overall market in South Africa.
Our sales representatives did not know by themselves, what they ware actually selling, and I had no authority according to our agreement with local partners to get involved on it in anyway. I was sad, I was "crying", but could not do much about it. My " blue dream" was destryoned by a bannal human factor whcih I failed to keep in the mind.
However, our project is alive and profitable, despite all of the above. And this fact, I am always commenting as follows:
It does not work due our efforts, but in spite of our mistakes.