The last line from Copier Colin Part 1 read, “We bought a copier.”
Well, no we didn’t. And I should have trusted my “sales trainer” instincts during Colin’s sales call when we shared our budget (yes, we actually shared our budget) and he and his manager replied with a confident, “no problem.” Right then and there the Growth Dynamics team should have run from the conference room and left them sitting there wondering what had happened.
The truth is when a sales person replies “no problem” to a pricing or condition request bad things are bound to happen. I know that, and yet I sort of laughed it off thinking this young man and the manager didn’t know any better. And so we let the process proceed to the inevitable, frustrating conclusion.
Sarah, our General Manager, and I traveled down the road to Colin’s office where we were treated to coffee and donuts and a big screen sales presentation with a proposal embedded in it. Our budget of $200 a month which was “no problem” five days earlier came in at $197, but with the staple function we requested was now $208. So, no problem was really a problem. Not wanting to be too disappointed we followed through with our commitment and signed the lease documents and headed home eagerly anticipating the arrival of our new office equipment two weeks later.
And that is when no problem really turned into a problem.
Colin called Sarah a day later explaining that we couldn’t really have that price after all. In fact, that price was part of a program for people enrolled in a special buyers’ group, and generally wasn’t available to companies outside the group. We could however keep the lease if we became members of the buyers’ group. After considering the offer to join a group we had no interest in we calmly told Colin that we just wanted his company to honor the agreement they made. As you can all guess that request activated all kinds of people and those people started telling us all kinds of things about how we didn’t realize how special the buyers’ group was (we couldn’t find anything special), how that pricing was below their cost, how much they wanted our business and how awesome their customer retention was. None of them said they would honor the deal they asked us to sign. Plus they more or less threw Copier Colin under the bus. That’s not cool.
In the end, despite a visit from the BIG BOSS, who agreed to honor the original lease Growth Dynamics decided to shake hands and say “thanks, no thanks.” The no problem that turned into a problem soured the best intentions. Selling that way leads to the risk of “what if this goes wrong” and that’s exactly what happened here. The price wasn’t really inside our budget and the real price wasn’t close to our budget and the whole thing went south. Trust your instincts is the ultimate lesson learned here.