“Hi Jason! This is Eric from cloud locker! … ”
“Hi Jason! This is Mary from Agile Mountain Software….”
“Hi Mr. Montague. Jimmy from FrogTop. Hey listen…I know you’re busy….”
“Jason! Its Rick! I’m with Bleep-Blop Cloud Org. I assume you remember me?….”
“Good Morning Jason. Steve McGillicuddy with HyperSecurityCloud. Hope you are well! It’s been a while! …”
“Jay-Dog! Its Ben Tintin. Hope you’re feelin good on this fine Summer afternoon! Hope you’re out on the course…. Hey listen….”
Below is my journey into the insanity of the vendor sales process. I’m not proud of how I handled/am handling this. If you’re a vendor who sells this way, can all we call a truce of some sort? If you’re a fellow leader, can we at least find ways to train managers how to handle this better?
I used to take vendor calls because I didn’t know any better. It was always awkward, and rarely did it end in “value” for either of us. I wasn’t able to make many (if any) decisions, so it was a very meaningless interaction. Sometimes the dialog went on for multiple interactions until the sales person actually asked for some business. Then the wheels fell off pretty quick. (That went on for a number of years)
As I progressed, I would take some calls, eat with the occasional local providers, and begun to communicate more directly with firms that I had no interest in. My approach was to be polite. My thinking was, if I simply tell them I’m not interested, they could move on. I’ll save them some time! Whoa, was that a mess. I’m a polite and feeble minded person, and I honestly couldn’t get them to understand “no”. The people I spent the most time with ended up being the people I initially said “no” to. They judo’d me so fast that, before I knew it, I had a lunch appointment next week. I always got nervous because I knew I DIDN’T need their product. I recall thinking that when they find out (now face to face) I will feel so bad! Not to mention embarrassed. This basic process went on for a lot of years as well. Ugh.
Fast forward to today. I have a large organization, access to purchase what I need, and the autonomy to make decisions. My current approach – embarrassingly – looks like this:
- Do Not Disturb: I turn off my phones and send nearly everything to voicemail. I can’t afford to speak to someone because I know I won’t be able to *politely* decline anything. My Midwestern upbringing will definitely kick in, and I can’t afford to spend time at lunch/breakfast/dinner/golf/football/basketball/etc/etc. I have way too much work, and a young and growing family to focus on.
- <Mail Undeliverable>: I ignore emails for fear if I respond, they will now know that I got their email. They will then grind into the voicemail process above, and before I know it – BAM! I’m going to lunch.
This approach is bad for many reasons. Many colleagues, partners, and even friends get caught in the filter. I continue to try cull mass amounts of emails and phone calls, but my complete avoidance of these folks makes me feel terrible. And in markets where most of these folks live in the area, I have had the occasion to meet some of these folks while at family or personal events. Wow, is that not fun.
It also seems easier to fix than it is in real life (in my experience). I am about ready to change this, as I can’t keep up with any of it any more. I will share my approach down the road, and I hope to feel some relief from this incredibly broken behavior.