Bad Vendor No Cookie!

By Roger Bryan

Bad Vendor No Cookie!

Today I was invited to pitch one of the largest Government Accounts in my industry. I spent the last four months researching this client and the services they need. I put together a team of six vendors from all over the world in order to develop a sellable service package. I was confident in my proposal. I was confident in my price point. I was all around confident in all that I had done in preparation for this meeting.

And then… for the first time in my career I watched as a vendor spent 30 minutes of rambling and sunk just about any chance I had of getting the account. I do have to say that the vendor came highly recommended by a few of my current clients. I had met with the guy about six times over the past four month in preparation for this meeting and felt confident that he knew what he was talking about. I did how ever have this gut feeling that he was less of a business man then he was a service provider. What I needed today was someone that understood business, and I didn’t get it.

I know parts of this may sound a little vague but the account that I’m pitching isn’t technically up for contract yet so I can not disclose the actual department of the government I was meeting with. I can say that the contract is for a federal organization that has a fleet of agent cars. This means that we would have been installing radios, alarms, lights, gun cases, and all that in about 700 vehicles a year. We would also be transporting these vehicles all across North America. The part that I was most interested in was the liquidation of the old vehicles as they came out of service.

Now I own a domestic and international shipping company as well as a logistics company that could handle the liquidation of the old vehicles so I had those parts of the proposal covered. I have no intent of starting a company to do the instillation aspect of this proposal so I decided to outsource that part of the account.

The meeting took two hours and was broken into three parts. The first was a demonstration of the instillation process, which went well. Then it was my turn to do the actual presentation of the service proposal. That again went well. Unfortunately the last part which was the Q&A part was a disaster. My installer was asked a simple question. It was basically about the warranty of his work. He went on a 30 minute rant that was just uncalled for. During this rant I tried numerous times to pull him out of it but was unable. The client (government agencies) went as far as to tell him what their current vendor was doing and exactly what they were looking for. He did not catch this. He kept going and going trying to convince them that he was right and that they were wrong.

I finally jumped in and told the client that we did not have an answer to their current question and that we would work on developing an answer and get back to them. This was a major turn in the wrong direction. You need to be 100% prepared when you meet a potential client.

Here is my dilemma now. I feel confident that the client was interested in the parts of the proposal that I had presented. I feel that the questions they were asking with C Qs in the ABC Process (Glen Gary Glenn Ross). The C stands for Closing Questions. I would like to send them an email tomorrow telling them that we are able to work with any installer they choose. But I went out of my way to endorse the guy that came with me today that I don’t know if that would make me look like an ass.

Well, I’ll post more when I decide what to do. I just wanted to vent about this. The reality is that this account would have brought in about $800,000 in revenues on about $2,000,000 in sales. This was a big opportunity that I feel like has slipped through my hands. I hope this post helps to show that you can never trust someone else to do the right thing. I should have learned his services and pitched them myself. Oh well I know better for next time.

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