Jun 092011

Just like in my previous post with same title, here’s another example from my past and a lesson to wise salespeople – sometimes you can’t achieve more no matter how hard you try, and if you get overly aggressive you can lose a customer:

An account executive (sales representative) trying to hit quarterly numbers showed up a bit before time to renew our software and service contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. As they often do when under pressure, they pulled the same old trick stating that if we renew before the end of the quarter the price will be lower. That almost never drove us to rush into a purchase, because it only shows the price we can get at almost any given point in time, but still, if everything aligned and we were able to do it, we would, just to help a good rep and keep a good business relationship. However, it seems this rep and his team didn’t understand how public sector works and how sometimes we may have more than what we need, but at other times the circumstances may prohibit such an action due to lack of funding or any other situation. So, in spite of our CIO telling them straight forward that we won’t be able to renew the contract before the quarter end (and our fiscal year end) due to multiple reasons (some of major ones being lack of available funds and the chairman of the board being sick) they continued pushing aggressively.

The salesperson then did the unthinkable – he pulled a social engineering trick and tried to bypass the CIO. What’s even worse, he skipped one more level and also bypassed the CEO and somehow obtained the telephone of the board chairman and called his office, stating it was very important. The chairman was sick at the time but the rep stated that it was critical so the executive assistant transferred the call to his cell phone. Naturally, this infuriated my CIO when she heard from the chairman, and the rest of us from the IT management team got outraged as well. We don’t ever want to do business with pricks pulling tricks like that.

So then I did a quick market research to double-check what I already knew and soon I sent an email to the CIO that I fully support her in any actions she wants us to take and that we can switch to a competitor without any service interruption or major problems. Need I say that we cancelled the contract renewal and went to the competitor in several weeks at the scheduled renewal time? The whole maneuver required some time to switch and learn the new system but in the end we got a better deal with turnkey install, deep respect bordering fear and great service from the competitor when they learned what brought us to them.

I don’t know what happened with the sales rep from the story, but I know he for sure didn’t meet his quarterly numbers, and who knows what else (losing a contract in good standing worth hundreds of thousands due to sheer arrogance is often a “resume-generating event”.) Actions speak louder than words, particularly when you vote with your wallet.

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