How I Loathe Salespeople

An aspect of my job I don’t particularly enjoy is purchasing; I spend a frustratingly large part of my day requesting quotes, raising PO’s, chasing orders, cross referencing invoices…I just want to build and break cool stuff, damn it!

But more than any of the above tedious processes, what I really dislike about purchasing, is firstly having to deal with salespeople.

I don’t ask much from suppliers. All I want is a competitive quote, the correct spec shipped, and the product delivered in a timely manner. Simple.

But instead what I’m regularly met with are some of the following…

“Have you considered x product instead?”

Probably the single quickest way to lose my business is to completely ignore the product I requested a quote for, and instead reply with “Have you considered this competitor product that we sell instead”? I now refuse to even reply to these to insist on the original quote, and instead drop the supplier for the current tender completely.

“We wouldn’t recommend the spec you’ve asked for, can you run this benchMARK/Auditing Tool on your ENVIRONMENT?”

I enjoy the process of speccing and building a new environment, and while I do appreciate a supplier who will cast their eye over an order and highlight any incompatible items or licensing issues, I really dislike anybody trying to hoodwink me and squeeze in a higher spec than required. This annoys me even more when we send a specific spec list from one of our tech partners, who insist on the exact build in order for them to support the environment, only to be met with requests to run benchmarks. Almost always a sneaky way to audit your licensing too.

“Just following up on that project you mentioned 3 months ago for the 8th time”

I get it, salespeople will hound you once they sniff out even the faintest scent of a sale, it’s their job after all. But I’ve found giving suppliers too much notice on upcoming projects is a sure-fire way to get your phone hopping and your inbox clotting. It can be tempting to confide in a friendly sales rep about an upcoming project, bounce some ideas off them, or even just let slip about something because you’re genuinely excited about an upcoming build. But more often than not this is just creating an opening they will be happy to exploit. I now keep suppliers on a strictly need to know basis. If I haven’t got a set deadline date for a project, they aren’t knowing anything about it.

“Which COMPETITOR RE-SELLER did you go for instead of us? Show us the quote and we’ll undercut it”

This just screams desperation to me. If I allow a supplier to undercut another, do I then offer the original supplier a chance to undercut them? Sure, I we might end up with a rock bottom price the finance board will be happy with, but not after a long drawn out game of quote-tennis and a detrimental effect on trust for all parties involved.

If they were capable of taking $10k off the original quote, then they sure weren’t offering me a competitive quote in the first place. I once had a vendor cut their price by 80% to try and make a deal! I like to use the analogy of purchasing a new car to demonstrate how ridiculous this is: if you went into a dealership to view a new car and the salesperson said his absolute best price was $50,000, only to reduce it to $10,000 as you were walking away to consider other options, how would you feel? You’d either think the salesperson was taking you for a ride with the original price, or there’s something seriously wrong with the car. Either way, you would leave that dealership and never return. The same applies here.

“I was talking to your IT Director, he’d like to go for product X and wants us to arrange a meeting to discuss”

The old “direct to the top” approach. Can’t get the techs and managers interested in your product or business? Just wine and dine the IT Head, and pitch him the latest, greatest, buzz-word filled product! Unfortunately it’s the IT Head that is often the most gullible to high-level over-hyping of a product, and isn’t close enough to the ground to know if a product is truly right for the organisation. In a previous position I’ve had to implement systems based on this kind of situation, and it never ends well. You have a poor product being implemented by people who didn’t want it in the first place. Thankfully in my current position the final decision is mostly up to myself, and I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to drop a smarmy salesperson when he thinks he has the IT Head wrapped around his finger.

“Great chatting to you about product X. Based on the numbers you mentioned, we’ve increased license count for your annual renewal of product Y, quote attached”

So this has happened to me only once, but it was such a slimy move I have to mention it here. I was having a conference call with a vendor and reseller demoing a security appliance, and was asked for a rough number of desktops to get an idea of licensing. Off the top of my head I supplied an answer. The next day a quote comes in for our annual AV renewal (a completely separate product to the one being discussed on the call), with an extra 250 licenses applied based on the numbers mentioned during the conference call. Needless to say I made my feelings known on that one. I don’t know how others would feel about this, but I saw this is a complete betrayal of trust, an abuse of a somewhat private business conversation, and a very sly move to sneak in some extra revenue. This reseller was dropped without hesitation and hasn’t had any business from me since.

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