"The more I find out, the less I know."

Tuesday - November 18, 2003 at 03:37 AM in


Today is like spring, with bright sun, highs in the 50's, and that earthy, humid smell I associate with thawing ground. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some confused bulbs poke their heads above the soil, if this keeps up for more than a few days.
As for myself, I'm back in the office, working on producing a customized demo deliverable for a large customer (call it N) which plans to private-label our services. N isn't currently our biggest customer, though they could be if we could get the wheels turning a little faster over there. N is one of those giant conglomerates which has sold something to probably every company in North America with over 500 people at one time or another.

So the private label deliverable is fine, it can be frustrating, but it is a productive sort of frustration, the kind where you bang your head against a wall a few times and eventually the bricks move.

Because N is so huge, they feel that gives them the right to claim, well, just about everyone as an existing customer. The conversation goes something like this:

N: "If we're going to resell your services, we don't want you undercutting us."

Me: "Not a problem. We'll never try to go direct to any account you bring to us, and we'll always tell you exactly what we're bidding any direct prospect."

N: "And if you're selling to one of our customers, you'll go through us."

Me: "We can't do that. For starters, all of North America is your customer, so what you're asking is almost an exclusive reseller arrangement. Second, what if the customer wants to go through us, and not you? Finally, you're not our only reseller, and what if another reseller brings us a contract for the same project first?"

N: "We don't want you undercutting us."

We have another channel, call it A, which is a gigantic services company which has probably done work for every one of the Fortune 500 at one time or another. A is the prime contractor on a massive project, call it Project 123, and wants to bid us as part of this project. N is a subcontractor. Even though our involvement on these projects is usually a footnote to an asterisk, Project 123 could generate a substantial amount of business for us over the next year, plus get us deeper into A for future projects.

So, of course, when N hears that A wants to bid us for Project 123, N starts complaining. "Project 123 is our project! You need to go through us!"

"N, our job is to make sure we're part of Project 123 by hook or by crook, and until you give us a purchase order, we're going to pursue Project 123 through every means we have available. Never mind that your sales team working the account never even mentioned us, and that we've been developing a relationship with A for well over a year. Never mind that you haven't gotten your act together to be giving us the level of business you should be. Never mind that A is the prime contractor and you're just another sub like us. And never mind that this project is being handled by a completely different part of N. Just give us the P.O. Until then, it's put up or shut up."

That's not what I say, of course. What I say is, "We want to make sure this is a win-win situation for everyone, and we'll give you whatever sales support you need to help A make an appropriate decision about sourcing our services."

Posted at 03:37 AM | Permalink | | |

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