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Tales from the Flip Side
Anyone with experience similar to "The Sales Guy's" has seen some crazy things from procurement people. We've all made mistakes, but from time to time, a mistake is so big, or a tactic fails so poorly that it becomes a life lesson. Read below - and don't miss the moral to the story at the end...
Many times the funniest events occur in stressful situations although the humor can't be appreciated until much later.
At one time I held global sales responsibility for our largest customer - a huge technology conglomerate. My employer produced very expensive, very complicated equipment to make microprocessor and memory chips. We had closed an eight digit deal with this key customer and our new equipment was not performing to standards. My company's senior management and I were called on the carpet by our customer's procurement team.
We had just started the meeting - tension filled the room. We were told our equipment was the sole reason our customer's new chip factory was at a standstill and the threat of litigation for non-performance hung over our heads. As the meeting ground on, the conference room suddenly flew open and our customer's general manager stormed into the room.
Without stopping to greet us or initiate any dialogue he launched into an invective laced tirade full of threats and insults. He repeated the earlier statement that we were the only reason his wafer fab could not make chips. Next the GM dipped into the details of our equipment's failings. In conclusion the GM said "If you guys at "XYZ company" don't fix this %&$# equipment ASAP you will never sell to my company again". With that the GM stomped out, slamming the door behind him.
There was only one problem. The problems cited by the GM had zero connection to our equipment. Worse yet - we did not work for "XYZ company".
After the GM departed our meeting resumed. No discussion or explanation was given to the GM's comments. We all just avoided eye contact for a few minutes and went back to work on addressing the issues.
Later we found out that our customer was having equipment problems throughout their new wafer fab with almost every supplier. Each supplier was being told they were the only ones holding up production. Unfortunately there were so many suppliers being taken to the wood shed the GM delivered his message to the wrong conference room. We did enjoy a few laughs with our fellow suppliers, some of whom had similar meetings.
Moral to the story: Make sure your execs know who they are screaming at.