Trading Places

Once in a while it’s fun to put on shoes of a vendor and see the selection process from the other side of the table. A few days ago I was asked by my long time vendor to help them on a sales call. I have to mention that one of the reasons I like working with these guys is they made themselves a true part of my team, so I felt obligated to help them out as I would do to someone from my own company. Nothing to make a sales call fun like last minute changes. This time it was pretty dramatic – the sales person could not make it. So I found myself along with another guy in a similar situation in front of a CTO of successful startup in the city. Ted, the CTO, did not seem to enjoy the situation. He turned to the “hiring manager” and asked him: “Vladimir, are you saying to me that the company which we are considering is not even here!?” I felt bad for the guy and decided to say few good words about my vendor, reasons I hired and kept them for quite some time now. Ted did not find my attempts to any degree entertaining “Why are you talking!? It should be the sales rep who answers my questions! I have real questions – what is your turn over ratio? I need to know exact percentage!” In the next few minutes the situation progressed from goofy to outright embarrassing. Fortunately it did not last long and in 15 minutes we were escorted out of the building. Oh boy, am I glad that my paycheck doesn’t depend on outcomes of such meetings. BTW, to the best of my knowledge we paved the trail for an Indian company that made a presentation right after us, they had a solid slide deck, all ratios ready and I am sure were not wearing jeans and pullovers. What is still bewildering to me is why someone would prefer a ppp to a genuine customer reference. But as they say “different strokes for different folks”

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