5

I work for a three-person team, and recently we've undergone a project where we are looking for a certain type of software product. Due to the nature of the product, it's a very expensive and therefore a long-winded search and pro/con elimination process.

In this process, we'e come really close to selecting one product, so we've gotten multiple quotes and demos, etc. The salesperson for that product now calls or emails 5-6 times a day asking if we're ready to purchase. No one on my team seems to want to tell him to stop.

How can I, as a person who is lower on the ladder, and not in charge of the project, politely tell the salesperson to wait? I've been in this situation before where I was in charge and I could simply tell them to stop calling and wait for our answer, but I don't want to overstep my current position, or make my team/company look unprofessional.

  • What country/culture are you in? I ask because here in the UK one would not need any seniority at all in order to ask a salesperson not to call so frequently. – A E Jun 27 '16 at 20:40
  • I'm in the US, Ohio specifically. – user12985 Jun 29 '16 at 15:21
  • 1
    That's interesting, I was expecting you to name a country with more formal/hierarchical business relationships than the US. Why don't you just tell him to stop ringing multiple times per day and that your colleague will get back to him when he or she is ready? I guess I don't really understand what bad thing you're worried might happen if you say that to them. – A E Jun 29 '16 at 16:54
9

My resolution would be to pass it up the chain, give them a contact who can make decisions and they can bug them instead. It's higher up's role to be dealing with these enquiries not yours, so just pass it upwards.

"Sorry, I don't have any say in these matters, please direct queries to xxx@mycompany.com. Have a great day. Signed Me."

Problem solved (at least for you it is).

  • 2
    +1 for "Reverse delegation", a wonderful concept in the Dilbert Principle. – Retired Codger Jun 28 '16 at 14:45
4

If the person who is in charge of the project and has the authority to speak definitively with the sales person is not providing a update perhaps there is a reason they have chosen not to. You do not want to start providing updates that you are not authorized to make and may be contrary to your companies goals.

Talk to the decision maker and see if there is a reason for not responding and if not volunteer to let the salesperson know the current status.

4

The salesman is trying to do his job as well, and his boss will be pressuring him to get a yea or nay from this company that he's done several presentations to.

Help them out. Get together with your team and decide when you'll have a decision by; it's only fair to the salespeople to have a timescale. Add a week or two, then when the salesperson calls, give them a date when you'll be making the final decision. And then.... at or before that date, make a decision, and tell all the salespeople whether they won or not. Just because you're looking for a solution doesn't mean that your management will wait until you decide at your leisure, so there really should be an end date to this discovery.

If you're unable to get that sort of decision out of your team and management, then you should talk to the team and decide who is the vendor interface. Redirect all calls and emails to that one person; there is no need for every person on a team to be talking directly to vendors.

2

First off, if you are the lowest ring on the totem pole, it is neither your responsibility not you are in a position to speak about a purchase decision. You need to convey this to the salesperson.

Usually, for products of this big price tickets, a sales person can only make one or two sales a year or a handful of them at best. And usually these sales people are commission based. Since he knows your company is serious about buying "something" he is just being pesky, trying to get his foot through your door. I personally have very little respect for people wasting my time just because they are going to make a sales commission.

In my opinion, your only communication with him should be something like this: "Sorry but I am not the final decision maker in this process and I do not have any knowledge when the powers that be will come down with a decision. As you can imagine, this is a big ticket item and needs to be approved by many levels in my company. I have no control over that process either. Once I get to know what is decided I will let you know. Meanwhile, I'd much appreciate eliminating these email messages, as they can be misconstrued as conflict of interest between myself and your company, which definitely is not the case as both you and I know."

And if he was really helpful to you during the process, going above and beyond his call of duty (not just giving the "buy my product pitch"), it would be nice and courteous to let him know about the decision, if his company doesn't get it, in the name of not burning the bridges. Who knows, with the knowledge of his company's product, and/or competing products, you may end up working for them one of these days.

2

Simply tell the salesperson the truth: your team is currently evaluating all the options. Let him know that you will follow up with him no matter the decision that you make. Ask him nicely to make himself available if you have further questions about features or pricing, but let him know there is no need to constantly call until a decision is made.

1

I am presuming that you haven't officially picked their product because of X, Y, or Z isn't working exactly how you would want it to.

So the easiest thing to do is say to the sales person. We would really like if X worked like this. Can you call us back when it does?

If they call back again and X doesn't work or no update, then I would say something like, "I am assuming now that X will never work how we want it to since I was waiting on an update about that from you? Just let me know so I can add it to our spreadsheet."

I deal with vendors daily. The #1 way to deal with a sales person is to make them concretely deal with a "real/technical" issue with their product.

Also if you approach this and they start some double-talk about X then politely ask them to clarify. Then you might have to go with "Sorry Ted, if I can't trust you when we are talking on the phone with being absolutely clear, we are going to have to switch to email to communicate."

These two tricks work 95% of the time. The other 5% you just get a brain dead sales person that will call you every time their CRM buzzes them. They will act like they have no/little recollection of past communication. Nothing you can do about this type - and should be the last type you trust during contract negotiation.

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