We were on a fact-finding mission with a sizeable new customer. The objective was to understand how they saw the relationship, where they positioned us versus our competitors, which products they would carry, how they would introduce our lines to their staff, and so on. Because I was in the area, I agreed to drop in and lend some weight to the proceedings.
Jared, the sales rep, was there primarily to make introductions. The original plan was to have the Sales Manager do that, but a last minute screw-up with a flight put the local rep on the line. Jan, who was recently and with good cause promoted to manage our Customer Care Center, and the appropriate product line manager were also there. On the customer side, a half dozen souls showed up, several of which were still in diapers. I wondered who organized this session.
He quickly fell back into his comfort zone.
The meeting was not well planned. The rep was not part of the implementation team per se and it showed. He didn’t quite understand the purpose of a kick-off session, so he quickly fell back into his comfort zone. That zone is called PowerPoint. The Small Office PowerPoints everything eventually. The problem is, there was no need for a presentation at all. The sales job was already done. A contract had already been signed. It was now time to move forward, to get information.
There were questions, but they were mostly posed by the customer. There were muffins and handshakes and nice to meet you and looking forward to working with you. In short, the meeting was a waste of time.
Ike, the Sales Manager, felt guilty over his no-show and was grateful that Jared was willing to cover for him. Jan was new to this kind of meeting so she could hardly be blamed for what did or did not transpire. Ike didn’t want anyone to feel bad, so he told them he heard it went really well, great start, lovin’ it.
But, unlike Ike, I was there. And I was not lovin’ it. To paraphrase Churchill, the cause was there, the people were there, the chance was there. And we left chance behind. One of us would have to let them know so that it wouldn’t happen again.