The SPD industry : their real job? Putting the competitors down (testimony)

Mason, one of the members of the community did send us his testimony of his work experience in a surge protection devices company. According to Mason, the industry spends a lot of time putting the competitors down. Will you agree with his point of view and the 6 lessons he’s learned from this experience?

Over the past year I’ve been in charge of updating our company’s boiler plate specification for surge protection devices (SPDs) also called Transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS). Meeting with several product reps it became very difficult to separate the sales hype from the important facts.

The SPD industry 1

Additionally, I was really turned off by the vendors themselves. While it is standard practice for a company to differentiate itself from its competitors by their features, it is rare that the competition is explicitly named.

The SPD industry took it one step further as the reps actively discredited their competitor’s products going so far as to point out failings and misdirection in their competitors literature while handing off their own. It seemed they spent as much, if not more time, putting the competitors down. This negative tactic left such a negative taste in my mouth I dreaded having the discussions and meetings.

6 lessons I’ve learned from this experience

With this in mind I pass along several of the lessons learned and tricks I used to separate the chaff from the wheat for the technical aspects as well as some of the interpersonal skills it took in hopes that you’ll find some of them applicable to situations you may face.

1) First, don’t let them bring you down with them. I found myself taking the opportunity to use their negative comments as an excuse to gripe about other off task topics. This wasted energy but also wasted time.

2) In a related way take the personal relationship out of it. Sales personnel should be personable, likable, and provide sales support when you need it. That doesn’t mean you can’t say no. Remind yourself that they always want your money do while they may be disappointed in being cut out now, or taking a path they don’t agree with they’ll be happy to come around to revisit it in the future as they always want your business.

3) When it comes to reviewing the materials ask yourself what your bidding environment is. As our projects are public bid we can’t have any features which would effectively limit the product to any one item but most manufacturer specifications are written so no one else can meet them. If you are using provided specifications as a resource make sure to ask them to identify what is unique.

4) Hand in hand with elimination of unique properties is the comparison of several specifications and product sheets for similar features. Use the commonalities to build your spec and identify the industry standards.

The SPD industry 2

5) Take the time to educate yourself outside of any meetings. There is a convenience to having vendors/reps on site with “lunch and learns.” It’s easier to schedule a meeting than scheduling time to focus to the tasks which doesn’t lead to a bottom line. However continuing education is part of all engineering so consult white papers, textbooks, even Wikipedia.

6) Finally, take a break between iterations. Specifications are ever evolving documents and large construction time between projects is slow. From predesigned to final completion it can be years so in this perspective taking a break to revisit in a year doesn’t seem so harsh. You’ve established a good basis for the current projects, in a year you can revisit and refine.

Those were my advices to make the best of the worst. What about you? Have you ever worked in a company which spent more time putting the competitors down? How did you feel about it?

Mason N.


  • Yes, as usual there are unserious companies and series companies. Incorrect and correct guys, as usual in the world. What is true is tha many also serious manufacturers issue tender text with figures which the specific application don’t need. The people who compares the competition offers very often knows but have no time to make a technical comparison and insist that the product must fulfill the tender text. It means the product is already decided before the tender is issued.
    On the end it is depending from customer relations whether you have a chance and from the technical competence to convience and teach the decision maker that the offered solution for his specific application is in total the best…with high reliability, lomng life and saving installation costs.
    To lower the prices of piecepart only to reduce the protection capacity to a lower level as everybody is cooking with water !! Only to lower price = to lower low qualty = risk of damages and finally the most expensive solution for the user ! Low price SPDs with lower qualty can only sold via wholesaler to unexperienced installer for residential project but not for industrial application where heavy damages can be danger for the existence of a manufacturer. Purchasing people only look at price its their job and sometime technical people are too weak to insist on the better but more expensive SPD. Thats business life, but finally the customer will take the right decisision if he knows what he risk with a low price product:” you get what you pay !” A correct Education with true infoemation (not brain washing by untrue marketing informations) of technician and also purchaser is very important for a good understanding which safe the business of a serious SPD manufacturer of SPD. Piece part price is not most important !

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