Ok, I’ve heard the term “Vendor Abuse” before. I always discounted it as whiny vendors who think that customers should just hand them sales without any actual work.
Apparently, I was wrong.
I’ve now seen it first hand.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples:
Two days before thanksgiving, Mr. Customer says they’ve got a project going that’s going to require, quite literally, millions of dollars in storage. The sales team gives up their thanksgiving weekend, in fact one of them working on it WHILE AT TABLE EATING TURKEY.
First thing monday morning following the holiday they present to the customer what amounts to 20-30 man-hours of work, only to be told that the project is no longer funded.
(This happens often enough to be commonplace)
Mr. Customer sits in a meeting with the vendor and his management and throws random comments that have no bearing on the discussion at hand, accuses the sales team of being outright incompetent (they weren’t, I was in this same meeting) and storms out of the room ranting about sending all business to another vendor.
At 2pm on Friday afternoon Mr Customer fires off yet another request for a ‘ballpark estimate’ for 5 Petabytes of data storage. With a “P”.
When the vendor asks for specifics about the storage, IE, type of data, access speeds, rates, replication, access method, this customer accuses them of stalling and not being responsive. After a long weekend, all questions answered, vendor is then told that the business went to a third party.
(When pressed, vendor finds that there never was a project to go along with this quote)
A few tips to stop this type of abuse:
1. Make sure all communications are CC’d above the troublemaker’s head. Make sure the troublemaker knows this is happening.
2. And this is hard for a sales-person to do, once you’ve identified a truly abusive customer, don’t take their calls. The one in the above scenarios likes to consume people’s time, but in the past six months has not ordered anything of significance. If the abusive customer is causing you to miss deadlines with other customers, kick them to the curb.
3. Push the abusive customer off to a reseller if you can. I’ve heard CDW-G can take LOADS of abuse.
4. Ask if this is a budgetary quote or if this is for a committed project. If it’s for a committed project the customer should be able to provide specifics. If it’s a quote for budgeting reasons, it can be back-burnered until “real” sales work is done.