Let’s be honest, it’s a great feeling when you cross paths with a prospective new client. Even more exciting is when that client has the potential to become a major account. When the chance to bid on such a major business deal finds its way to your desk, it’s easy to quickly become enveloped in the haze of excitement, diving in head-first with hardly a second thought.
And why not? “Just look at the size of this customer’s program!” You’d say. “I’d be crazy not to pursue it, wouldn’t I?” you may think to yourself.
Well, you might just be surprised. Take a closer look and you’ll oftentimes find some surprising red flags crop up. This by itself is not unusual. And, every so often, a very special kind of warning sign will rear its ugly head – one of a select, small handful of especially troubling signs that disguise themselves under wrappings of jargon. Waiting like Sirens to snatch you up unawares, luring you into exercises of futility or dragging you into disastrous partnerships, these are the tell-tale signs of danger I have so lovingly dubbed: The Un-Holy Trinity:
- Excessive Pricing Exercise: When page after page of product quotes make up most – if not all – of the client’s supplier evaluation, it might be time to look elsewhere. Concerned only with pricing, the customer is usually looking to leverage lower prices out of their incumbent. Even worse, the client may want to take the final decision to auction, preferring financial gladiatorial combat over a quality partner.
- Client Inventory Buyout: Taking ownership of these existing inventories – oftentimes full of obsolete or soon-to-be obsolete product – simply doesn’t make financial sense. Why take an unnecessary bite out of your program profits if you don’t have to? When buying up inventory becomes a requirement, it’s just best to stay away.
- Non-Exclusive Partnership: A prospective client claims that they are looking to consolidate purchasing through a carefully-selected, preferred supplier. The client also states that they reserve the right to purchase for their program outside of their selected partner. Why, then, are they troubling to establish a program with you if there is no promise of business through your services? This is completely counter-intuitive to the entire process – you are given no financial security while the client is happy to pry open Pandora’s Box.
The promise of a great sales volume doesn’t always equal a great client partnership. Don’t be afraid to assess and judge with a level head, lest you be seduced by the Siren’s song!