A 60 Minute Call is NOT Due Diligence!

It used to be the doctor would only get a request once every month or so for a “call with a client looking for some insight into the space from an expert“, but now it’s the case he’s getting these every week, often multiple times a week, from yet another firm that “specializes in connecting clients looking for insight with experts” or some other such meaningless gobblydygook from a knock-off Dilbert Mission Statement Generator.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad in the grand scheme of events except,

  1. You can’t learn anything meaningful in 60 minutes. (We’re talking enterprise software solutions, not the results of an investigative whodunnit.)
  2. These requests are now coming from kids so young the doctor is wondering if they are still high school (despite the fancy LinkedIn titles their firms give them) … and not to be ageist, but there’s no way these kids have any deep understanding at all of any industry domain or what makes an expert (and how to judge if that expert has the right education and experience).
  3. It seems companies are using a handful of these calls as “due diligence” on a space or a company.

And a 60-minute call is NOT due diligence. the doctor does product and technical due diligence, and even a high-level due diligence on a company (which is just looking for potential red-flags and yellow-flags that will have to be watched) takes weeks of man power (as the team he worked with did market, strategy, product, and technology, and even though the doctor can do an entire product and technical diligence in S2P on his own — no team of 6 to 10 needed — it’s at least a week of effort on a single module to get enough certainty that there are no red flags and the important yellow flags have been identified). This is because a due diligence involves process reviews, document reviews, code reviews, focussed interviews, etc. etc. etc. and comparisons to standards, best practices, and market norms.

Given this, just what are you going to learn from a few call with external “experts” who don’t have any access to documents, processes and practices, and the internal stakeholders who make the decisions? Opinions. Maybe. But most likely, absolutely nothing!

In other words, if you need deep insight, find an analyst, diligence, or strategy firm that knows the space and, if you are interested in a company in particular, find an analyst, diligence, or strategy firm that that knows that company AND that company’s peers. And go with them. Don’t pay for the privilege of paying for the privilege to talk to someone who won’t end up being that useful to you. Especially if you need to be able to back up a(n investment [related]) decision that involves the company and prove you did your homework and the stars were aligned as well as they could have been when the decision was made (since no one can predict the future, just play the odds).

In other words, these firms, which the doctor will have nothing to do with, need to go away. A consultant who has the expertise to find the right analyst / diligence / consultancy for you and introduces you to the right individual in that firm deserves a finder’s fee, but doesn’t deserve a fee for the privilege of hooking you up with a random yahoo who can’t help you at all. (And even if that individual is an expert in their area, if it’s not the area you need, and they know next to nothing of relevance in the area and company relevant to you, they’re a yahoo from your perspective.)

And as you probably figured out by now, if you reach out to the doctor and he’s not the right expert for you, he’ll pass you on to someone he believes can (which could be one of the 40 experts he explicitly mentioned, and linked to, in yesterday’s post). It’s not about “sign the contract at all costs and hope to figure it out later“, it’s about helping your prospect because, even if they don’t become a client today, when their need is appropriate, they will become a client tomorrow.