Why did they pay me $50 to see the demo, then not call back? Maybe they’re just not that into me.


A marketing technology company spends millions on incentives, then has no one available to close sales.

10/24/2011 – Quick research on Vocus shows that the product remains solid and their sales organization is still trying to figure out what to do.  Maybe they should use their own product.

Vocus Spam

The Journalistics blog posted this icon to warn about PR spam from Vocus.

I’m trying to understand why a company would pay me $50 to see their demo, tell me they want to do things together, then not return my phone calls or e-mails.

Maybe they’re just not that into me. But, why would they offer me $50 a second time?

Vocus is a public company started in 1991 that has web-based public relations management applications. They market aggressively by sponsoring webinars with distinguished experts, advertising in new and traditional media, and offering professionals like me a $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card to see a product demo.

I generally ignore those offers, out of respect for the sales people who slog through countless non-prospects who just want the gift card. However, I have used media relations databases for more than 20 years, so I scheduled the demo after the third or fourth invitation.

I was overwhelmingly impressed. Although I no longer manage media relations day-to-day, I had ideas for integrating and reselling Vocus, with a couple of big companies in mind. The rep and I agreed on next steps. The potential for adding this tool to my bag of tricks was exciting.

Weeks went by. I sent an e-mail reminding the rep of our agreed upon follow-up. I left one, maybe two, voice messages. I spent the $50 gift card. I read the books. Had the rep left the company? They make relationship management products. Surely, a lead could not slip between the cracks. Maybe, they were just not that into me. I can handle that.

Then, they offered me another $50 to see the demo. They had paid me $50 to see the demo and determined that my business development overtures were insignificant. Or, so I thought. Perhaps, it was not my fault. This might be another company that markets heavily but does not have the sales resources or pipeline management savvy to back it up. Like the master electrician whose own home is a mess of exposed wires and tangled extension cords, this could be a relationship management company that can’t keep track of its own prospects.

Oh well, the demo was great.

Leave a Comment

Kim February 16, 2010, 8:33 pm

At least you got the gift card. We went with Cision after Vocus failed on one small promise—the elusive gift card. Our sales rep at Cision even sent us a $50 gift card to show they could deliver. If Vocus had shown us they could deliver on a small promise, we wold have signed with them that day. Cision won because they didn’t lie to us.
We have had Cision for a week and we love it. The customer service is great and we have already placed a half dozen client in media.

John Ribbler February 17, 2010, 11:40 am

Not only that, I got a second gift card after writing the article for responding to a 3rd unsolicited offer. Vocus is a very good product, but my current assessment is that the extra features you cannot get with Cision are neither essential nor worth the extra cost. Among the many long-term problems that may result from their aggressive, indiscriminate sales incentive strategy is customer perception that Vocus’ premium price includes the cost of their marketing, as well as a few extra whistles and bells.

Thanks for your comment.

Shawn Cook July 3, 2009, 2:13 am

Hello John! My name is Shawn Cook – Director of Sales with Vocus. I am glad to hear in fact that you liked he demo of the Vocus software and you are correct! Your representative who did the Vocus demo is no longer with the company. I have since assigned this over to another representative who will call you first thing next week.

Vocus has grown its salesforce this year alone by 20% that explains but does not excuse poor salesman ship. We are still in record growth even in a down economy and still maintaining a 94% renewal rate with our clients. We have added more infrastructure lately that will hopefully eliminate these breakdowns but if you know of anyone who has this plight please at any time give them my direct number (301-683-6951) or email me scook@vocus.com

Thanks again for the feedback and interest in Vocus… we are certainly on the way and not in the way!

Heather Henley June 30, 2009, 10:18 pm

I had the exact same experience with Vocus. Took the first $50 gift card and set up a time to do the demo. The rep never called during our agreed upon time. I left voicemails and emails, but still nothing. I got so aggrivated, knowing that Vocus was a nice tool since I knew others that used it I jsut called the 800 number and explained my plight.

I finally got the demo and eventually became a customer. I still get the $50 gift card demo offers in the mail.