Show Me Candy #WhenVendorsAttack

l1001849_tonemappedVendor Demo

As a leader in IT, I have the benefit and the curse of 1,000+ vendors contacting me on a weekly basis.   Here are some challenges, issues, concerns and solutions for those selling warez.

Challenges for Vendors

Solving problems I don’t have or that I have nothing to do with..

Dear Howie,  As the IT leader for Knowledge Management I am pretty sure you need our UI / UX, AI, IA, RPAi, RPA, Workflow, Branding, Cloud SaaS,  CRM, Service Now, Crayola digital art kit.   How’s next Tuesday?  or Hey Howard (Howie) How-ster.. How-dog…  My SVP Fred Mcpuffinstuff asked me to setup a meeting with you to go over your needs in feeding puppies.   We are experts in puppies and we know that we can serve all your needs.   In fact, we will actually bring you a puppy when we see you and we will serve you puppy for dinner when we go out in town.

Honestly,  this is a very annoying at best and creates a situation where it impacts my productivity at worst.   You don’t know anything about me or what I do but you never know.. you may get lucky?   It isn’t likely..

Talking vs Demonstrating  | Demonstrating vs Talking

Tools.. tools… tools..   First they want to talk about the tools but then quickly realize things aren’t simple in the big enterprise environment.   Next we may talk about doing a demonstration but because there is a lack of understanding of the environment there isn’t an understanding of limitations.   The problem here is that vendors assume that we have 100% access to all of our resources.  They don’t take into consideration to ask about controls.  They also don’t know who they are speaking with relative to the demonstration. “This is the best bacon your Synagogue orthodox congregation will ever have.”  A real world example of this would be security vendors looking to sell me network solutions and wanting to demonstrate intrusion detection software.   That’s nice, but it really has nothing to do with me.    On the other end of the spectrum, some companies want to sell something that they can’t demonstrate beyond a wire-frame.  The reason is that they have the “talent” to build something custom or they have an “engine” to do whatever it is I can imagine.   My bologna has a first name.. ♪♫♬


Many companies are just trying to get their feet on the ground.  I understand that and in my opinion, there isn’t anything wrong with becoming an entrepreneur.   It takes a lot of courage to go out on your own and start a business.    The issue is about risk.

A few years ago, I was working for a very large oil and gas company as a consultant.   The company had decided to buy software from a very small company.  The software worked well but the small company couldn’t keep up with the demand from the large company.  At the end of the day, the large company had to buy the small company.     This happened because the company was understaffed and the licensing costs didn’t cover the operational and capital expenses.   They were successful in their sale but they could not afford to scale and they didn’t understand the scope of business relative to expense in operations vs sales.

Going with a startup or Small, Medium Business (SMB) is fine but we need to work with the companies to understand the risk / reward.  If the risk outweighs the reward, it simply isn’t worth it. Many companies try to hide information about themselves but they wind up having to answer these questions with the vendor management groups of large companies.  Lack of transparency up front will cost you a sale, even if someone like me loves you.

Issues for Vendors

Misrepresentation of intention

For simplicity sake,  I am friendly but not your friend.   Many people contact me like we are old friends and served in the armed forces together.   Hey man,  could you do me a solid and connect me with your CIO?   Sure, I will get right on that brother.   I don’t mind helping out or talking to people, but if you intention is to simply use a relationship with me that you didn’t have in the first place,  it isn’t working out well for your endeavor.

Poor listening skills

Understanding words like (yes or no).   Sometimes, people call me and I say “no” because I can’t or it is not comfortable for me.  Maybe I say “no” because I don’t want to do it.   In many cases, vendors are so persistent and aggressive that they literally can’t understand the word “no.”   This doesn’t work out well in the long run because if you had accepted what I had to say,  I would be happy to refer you to other people who might say “yes.”

If you can’t listen in the beginning, there is a good change that you can’t listen at all.

Asking for favors

This is one of my favorites.  I don’t mind helping people and I do go out of my way to help people.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am willing to help.    Often times the vendor equivalent of Wimpy comes and knocks on my door asking for a bunch of hamburgers today that they will gladly pay me back for on Tuesday.    Over time, I have learned that they (mostly) take the burger and run.    Don’t ask a prospect that you don’t know for favors.   

Concerns for Vendors

  1. Loss of trust
  2. Loss of sale
  3. Loss of opportunity for the future

Solutions for Vendors

  1. Research the company (not the people individually)
  2. Do your homework.
  3. Contact the right people in the company.

The secret in successful engagement is to build a trusted relationship up front.  Listen carefully to the prospect.   Don’t run us over with the pitch.  Be honest, open and transparent.   If you are dealing with a large organization, understand that you will be putting skin in the game and that an engagement will cost you money.   It is an investment for you as much as it is for them.

There are so many stories about vendorzilla situations, that we could probably write a book on it.

What’s yours?


2 Replies to “Show Me Candy #WhenVendorsAttack”

  1. Just this week I had a vendor call 17 times (not an exaggeration. Literally 17 times in a 3 day period). They used a bogus number in the caller ID AND didn’t bother to leave a message. I finally picked up out of frustration and to make it stop.

    “Hey John, I wanted to followup on our previous discussion regarding ”
    “I have no involvement with . I think that you have the wrong person. We certainly haven’t had a previous discussion”
    “No…I’m sorry…I had the discussion with xxxxx and they gave me your name”
    “Errrr…that person hasn’t been with the company for over a year and also knows that I have no involvement with . You must have me confused with someone else”
    “You work for as , right?”
    “Yes, but my team has no involvement with , services or any decisions related to ”
    “Oh…but touches everything in your enterprise and we’re experts in . It’s very related to what you do. I’m just calling to confirm our scheduled meeting next week at ”
    “We don’t have a meeting scheduled and I don’t have any interest in your products or services”
    “But my CIO is scheduled to meet with you at in . I just want to confirm the arrangements”
    “Look….part of my role is to identify technology and expertise that we have in-house to help reduce our consultant and product spend. My job is to leverage existing in-house resources so that we don’t bleed money and skills out the door”
    “We can help you with that. We have consultants that are experts in cost reduction”
    “So you’re suggesting that I hire consultants to reduce my consulting spend?”
    “We have a wide variety of services that we offer. We can talk about it on in our meeting.”
    “I don’t have a meeting scheduled with you. I don’t have any budget for your services or product and I’d appreciate it if you’d remove me from your contact database”
    “But our products pay for themselves”
    “Are they free?
    “No…but we can…”
    “I have no budget and no business need for your products or services”
    “Can you refer me to your CIO?”

    This was a bit more “over the top” than most, but it’s pretty representative. I’ve got to assume that they have a really low conversion rate for calls like this. But, when a vendor lies to get my attention, I really don’t care how good the products or services are, I’m not going to trust them as a business partner. If you’re hiring sales people and rewarding them for bad behavior (getting a meeting at any cost, pestering people into answering the phone, tricking people into giving you information), you’re not going to generate a lot of loyalty.

    Admittedly, I’m probably too nice. I don’t like hanging up on people. I don’t like yelling. I actually sympathize with them as I know that making cold calls is a sh*t job and one that I am personally horrible at. But don’t waste both our time. I know if I’ve got any interest and you can’t bully me into developing one. All you can do is make me want to blacklist you and your company. Additionally, I will share my impressions with my peers, so you’re not just burning one bridge, but setting fire to the countryside as well.

    Be authentic, respectful and politely move on if there isn’t an opportunity. In exchange, I’ll be respectful, candid and remember you if and when a need arises.


  2. Having been on both sides of the challenge, it occurs to me that neither side is all one or all the other. I may have a solution, you may have a problem. It may be a marriage made in heaven. It also maybe that you want too much from my small company even after I have been completely transparent. No, I can’t float you for two months because your accounting department takes 3 months to process a bill. No, I can’t buy that software because you think I need it.

    Yes, I will give you a complete proposal that includes what I am going to supply. Yes, I will meet my deadlines or tell you if I cannot. No, I won’t spell out ever single thing so that you can use it to design your work around my proposal without me. I did that and learned. I don’t do it anymore. Perhaps, if we would both be upfront and respectful of each other talents, challenges and humanity, we would be more respectful. I won’t push, if you tell me the truth. Don’t need me? Ok. Maybe, someday we can work together.

    -Your future friend and vendor


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