I was originally going to put this down as a comment to Artsy-Fartsy tale of woe but I now realize it really deserves it's own entry.
As a bit of background, though I still have many stories from my time there, I've actually now left Flowering Valleys for a consultant position with a new affiliate of a well known computer hardware manufacturer. It's a considerable step up in both pay and responsibility, and while it is still mainly sales related I'm being relied upon to also handle some of the management work load as well as administration so I'm quite pleased with it all around.
The biggest plus to the job, however, is our boss has a much stricter attitude towards pricing and custies. Essentially he sets the prices, we're given a wiggle room if the customer wants to talk discounts but not much more than that. If a customer says our prices are too high or we're not being fair with our discounts then too bad, they can go look elsewhere for their stuff cause we've got plenty of other folk willing to play by our rules.
Thus far we've had very few problems with our clientele, until last month when I finally had to enact the above mantra with a Californian custy who was thus dubbed the Braindead Beach Bum (BBB).
The following conversation takes place over IM.
Braindead Beach Bum: Heyo, Trader what's up?
Me: Good morning! How can I help?
Braindead Beach Bum: Saw you had three NIB of *item model* advertised and wanted to see if I could get a quote, then reserve them.
Me: Certainly, those are going for about $1,395 each and I can place them on reserve as soon as I have a PO.
Braindead Beach Bum: Kay, bear with me then, dude.
I leave the chat window open and run a check on BBB's company. They haven't done business with us previously thus I'm going to need to set up an account for them.
Me: Also, as I see that you're a new client, could you send me a copy of your reseller's certificate and a short list of references from companies you've worked with previously?
An hour slowly clicks by without any response. Eventually my colleague, H, tells me he's gotten a request for the same items. Unfortunately, since BBB hasn't sent the purchase order yet I can't put them on reserve so I tell H to go ahead and quote.
Me: Also, as a heads up, my colleague just got a request for those same items. I'm really going to need a PO if you want to have them held for you.
30 more minutes click by, and then finally.
Braindead Beach Bum: Hey dude, when can you ship those out?
Me: I can ship them as soon as I have a PO, along with the other aforementioned documentation.
Braindead Beach Bum: k, can you do anything about the price? That's a little steep.
Me: Well, since you're buying all three I could add a bulk discount and drop the price to $1,210 each.
Silence descends across cyberspace again. H eventually says he's got a PO for the items (strangely his client seems okay with our asking price), but is willing to defer to me since BBB called first dibs.
Me: My colleague just got the order for those items. Again I really am going to need the same from you if you don't want them to be sold to someone else.
More time passes. H says his custy needs the items shipped today. I wait another 30 minutes and then tell him to go ahead and process his order since the lack of response would indicate BBB is no longer interested. H gets approval for the sale, I go down to help him get the items from storage, leave for lunch and come back to update the inventory. By now several hours have passed and H goes out to get packing materials for the shipment. Literally upon his return my chat window blinks.
Braindead Beach Bum: Alright well I gotta leave soon, dude so I'll send the PO now. You can still ship today can't you?
Me: *thinking 'No...you have got to be kidding me.'*
Braindead Beach Bum: Oh and I'm still not digging your price. Get them down to $500 and all is well.
Me: *thinking 'You have GOT to be kidding me.' *writes* H sold those items two hours ago. When you didn't respond I thought you weren't interested any more.
Brainead Beach Bum: What? Dude, I had other stuff to do! Why didn't you hold them like I asked you to?
Me: *not entirely sure how to respond, not that it matters as BBB immediately leaps back in with the following*
Braindead Beach Bumb: Never mind, just tell H I need 'em and get back to me when you have a tracking number.
Me: *after a minute of reminding myself to be polite* I'm sorry but I can't do that, BBB. He got the order and the approval to sell them. Per our policy the sale is his fair and square.
Braindead Beach Bum: But I got you the PO first!
Me: How long have you actually had the PO?
Braindead Beach Bum: Since this morning. I just wanted to wait till you agreed to my price before sending it.
Me: Send it over now.
*He sends it and I check it out*
Me: BBB, as I told you before, I can't drop the price to this amount. Plus, as I also stated before, I need your resellers permit and a reference list to get you set up with a shipping account.
BBB: I don't have time to do all that! Can't you just check the feedback on our site and take their word for it?
Me: I'm sorry but our policy states we need those two documents to do business with you.
Braindead Beach Bum: Well that's bull***t! I need those items tomorrow!
BBB: Trader, my company is like one of the biggest in California! You do this for me, $600 each since you aren't good for $500, shipped overnight, and I can promise you a heck of a lot of business from us in the future!
Me: I'm sorry, but I told you what we needed to hold the items for you, and what our prices were this morning. You chose to wait till it was too late so there's nothing I can do for you now.
*BBB does not respond. After several minutes I close the chat window and get on with some paperwork...until said window rudely pops back into view again.*
Braindead Beach Bum: You're actually going to do this, dude? You're really going to turn down a perfect opportunity to land a major league client and thus cut yourself off from a reliable source of six figure sales??
Me: *thinking 'Yeah right bud, you can't even handle four figures* I don't know what else to tell you. Our owner wants to make profit and we wouldn't have been able to do that at your requested price. I'll be happy to help you out if there's something else in our stock that you need.
Again I get the silent treatment as BBB no doubt tries to think of a decent come back. Ten minutes later he finally comes up with the following carefully crafted witticism:
Braindead Beach Bum: WELL F**K YOU THEN!!!! (yes he actually bolded and italicized it)
BBB signs out, I save the chat log to send to my manager in case a complaint gets lodged, and then silently break my brain over the logic of the above. Seriously, in what region is it a sensible business practice to wait on a time sensitive deal till the other side finally panics and gives in to your demands (I'm guessing that's what he was hoping would happen)? Especially considering if he had just sent the damn PO to me when he got it he could have least bought himself more time to stall and negotiate (we'd never have agreed to his asking price, but further more that's the brilliant thing about electronic documents: you can go back and edit them if changes need to be made!).
Regardless his threats aren't going to matter jack in any respect. Even if we lost a deal with him there's still every chance we can sell to another rep in his company so we haven't cut ourselves off from anything, and if he tries to dissuade his colleagues from contacting us we've got the evidence to prove he's at fault.
The only downside is, if we DO eventually manage to make a sale and sign BBB's company on as a client I don't know if I'll be able to refuse him as easily if he tries to do business with us again....ah well, tis a bridge to be crossed at a later date.