Tech team to salesman: Persistence isn't always a virtue

The fifth time is not the charm as two unfortunate techies get drawn into an overly aggressive ERP sales pitch

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Two weeks later, he called back, wondering what he could do to earn our business, and offered to let me talk to a programmer. I told him that unless he could give me a Web demo right then showing me that they could meet our two non-negotiables without customizations, we couldn't go with his software and he didn't need to call back.

Two weeks later, like clockwork, Jim called back, and now I was rather annoyed. I told him straight out that we were not going to go with his software, and I wasn't going to speak with him again. He persistently asked if he could do anything to earn my business. In hopes of getting him off the phone, I told him that if they could meet all our non-negotiables without customizations and if I could control my home toaster from the office, I would consider his software. He laughed and said that he would see what he could do. I figured that Jim finally understood and I didn't have to worry about him again.

So when I saw Jim's number on my caller ID about a week later, I was surprised. When I answered, he greeted me and said that he had "Bill," a senior developer with his company, on a conference call. Bill said they didn't usually do customizations but asked if I could go over my criteria. I told Bill that I needed my two requirements in the base application without customization. Bill then quizzically asked Jim why he was on the call, since he was a developer and didn't talk to customers about product road maps. Jim said, "You did have one other customization requirement, and I thought maybe you could talk to Bill about it?"

"Well, Bill," I said, "I told Jim that I would consider your software if I could control my home toaster from the office."

"What?" was Bill's flat, slightly shocked reply.

"Bill, I can't get Jim to understand that we aren't going to consider your software because it needs to be customized to meet our requirements, and we aren't going to go with customizations for these requirements."

There was a pause before Bill replied: "I'm employee No. 2 here, and I can promise you, Jim's not going to be calling you again. And he's definitely going to have to tell a developer why they are on the call from now on. I'm sorry for wasting your time."

We eventually went with another vendor, but unfortunately, I still can't control my toaster from the office.

This story, "Tech team to salesman: Persistence isn't always a virtue," was originally published at Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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