It's fine for a small startup to cater to small startups, but the big companies have big budgets, and eventually, you'll be making 80% of your money off of them, so learning how to deal with them can be helpful.
1. Big companies often have purchasing departments actually do the purchase. They are trained to expect discounts and the people in the purchasing department know a lot more about asking for discounts than they know about software, because that is their specialized role in the organization. If you politely tell them that you have one price for everyone, they'll still purchase, because the purchasing department ususally doesn't have the power to stop the purchase.
2. Those 80-question checklists usually come out of the following, typical corporate process:
* A team of people identifies a need for software
* The team meets to agree on everything they need
* The junior person on the team is tasked with evaluating 12 possible products to see which one is best
* That person makes up a spreadsheet and sends it to each of the vendors hoping that they will do his homework for him
* The vendors who have decent presales support or sales teams fill out the spreadsheets by marking everything as "Yes" or "Yes with a footnote" and get the deal.
This also explains the "multiple questions that can be answered from a website" -- it's a sign of a person who has been put in charge of evaluating multiple products, not a sign of a toxic customer.
3. Multiple contacts through multiple channels are usually the sign of multiple interested parties at the client site. You can't sell to big companies without touching multiple people. One of a salesperson's most important jobs is helping the customer themselves get organized and make a purchase. A good salesperson helps the person who wants your software navigate their own corporate purchasing politics.
Summary: while it's fine to turn away truly toxic customers, and you are welcome to decide that you'd rather sell to the starving startup founders on Y-combinator who would rather spend 2 hours scouring your website than deal with a salesperson, the corporate customers turn out to be remarkably price-insensitive, once they make a purchase they will keep paying you maintenance for years long after the product is not even in use, and they're just as likely to leave you alone as the small guys, but they do have "multiple stakeholders" and if you want to sell to them you need a process that matches their reality.
These are also the guys who either slander you online or at least threaten to do so. These are also the entitled customers who tend to think you have infinite resources to throw at them. In my experience, large corporate customers were more understanding to having to draw the line somewhere than small irate ones.
And that may be true. But if so, it's not a scientific process. The warning signs do factor into it, but in the end it's a matter of gut feeling. (Perhaps because it's not necessarily the case that a given customer is universally toxic, it's that they don't fit you, your company, or your product.)
But it's always embarrassing for an engineer to write a blog post like "how to detect toxic customers by going back and forth in conversation, trying various rhetorical strategies that you make up on the fly, and occasionally closing your eyes and trying to use the Force". So instead the author tried to invent a nice, rational checklist. It has the virtue of looking scientific. The only downside is that it may not actually work very well. It's not what the author is actually using, either. You can't do sales, especially corporate sales, with an algorithm unless you're willing to leave money on the table, maybe a lot of money.
Asking huge numbers of questions can be a sign of a customer support nightmare or a person/company/entity doing their homework. Following up can be a sign of high expectations or them being keen to make a decision asap.
Asking for a discount is sometimes a buying signal. Conversely, whilst rudeness isn't a good thing, some of the customers that will be a really bad fit are the ones who are really making the effort to be polite and charming.
The one almost universal red flag would be constant inappropriate reference to price. Asking for discounts is to be expected. Asking if there are cheaper, slimmed-down alternatives, or freebies for volume purchases is reasonable. Constantly referencing the price whilst raising unrelated issues or requests is a sign that something's amiss.
Whenever you hear something like "I'm surprised to hear you haven't added xyz considering you're charging £xxx" or "so before I starting paying £xxx, would you...?"
it's a pretty good sign that they're either rationalisig a decision to not spend the money with you or have an inflated sense of how far up your priority queue their spending pushes you. Then again, you can suspend that rule for businesses that are likely to pay enough to push themselves up your priority queue too..
"There's no software priced between $1000 and $75,000. I'll tell you why. The minute you charge more than $1000 you need to get serious corporate signoffs. You need a line item in their budget. You need purchasing managers and CEO approval and competitive bids and paperwork. So you need to send a salesperson out to the customer to do PowerPoint, with his airfare, golf course memberships, and $19.95 porn movies at the Ritz Carlton. And with all this, the cost of making one successful sale is going to average about $50,000. If you're sending salespeople out to customers and charging less than $75,000, you're losing money."
In this case, the software is lower than $1000 - so he needs to detect and avoid time-guzzling corporate buyers, even if they are likely to buy something.
Or, to setup corporate pricing. But you can't recommend the 80 question answer approach at this pricepoint.
We receive maybe one inquiry a month from a large customer and they actually tend to be some of the most reasonable prospects we come across. Very rarely do they show disrespect, ask for discounts, contact us over and over again, etc...
Though it's not critical to the discussion, the person I mentioned in the post was not a corporate customer. They were a very small (less than 5 employee) firm who happened to be exhibiting these toxic/large company traits.
Disrespectful and abrupt communications are still a warning sign for larger companies as are unrealistic expectations (at least for the example given).
The article specifically mentions that "Any one of these warning signs is not a big deal, but stack 2 or 3 on top of each other and (depending on their severity) you have yourself a red flag." A corporation might only set off 1 or 2, and if you keep in mind the points you made I don't think it will generate too many false positives.
Even in the example blog, the problem person was eventually bypassed and the sale went ahead.
If one finds oneself in this situation is there any general advice for trying to get to talk to someone else if you contacted by a jerk from what might otherwise be a good prospect?
[Edit: I didn't notice who wrote that comment before replying!]
If you're going to aim for the same niche, it'll likely involve a web service for creating RFQs and also for building up a database of both the requests as well as building up the feature loci of the various queries; you'll need to differentiate your service from the aforementioned Excel and from Google Docs and various of the testing services. Acquiring and then maintaining sufficient feature data (whether via web services or scraping) is probably going to be the tough part.
Look around for folks already dealing in electronic purchase, e-procurment, and particularly at SAP.
For a small business with fixed pricing, a corporate customer at a large company may well be a toxic customer. All the points you made hold true, but they also all increase the cost of the sale for the small business. If the product pricing does not cover the "high-maintenance-ness" of a large corporate which is expecting a corporate service, then why isn't this customer toxic from the point of view of the small business selling the product?
OTOH, there are often purchasers at large companies who understand that they're buying a commodity product, can approve the purchase (based on the much lower price) and don't have such high expectations.
It's all about being aware of expectations and declining the sale when they don't match, which is exactly what Rob identified here.
EDIT: Also worth noting - there is value in recognizing a customer you can't handle (whether or not you should be able to isn't relevant) - and then following up later to find out how things worked out for them so you can find out if you screwed up an opportunity.
Perhaps, if you are running a B2B operation.
If you are a small business running a B2C operation, however, then the original article seems pretty much on the money to me.
Seeing the other side of those analyst annual reviews can be quite the revelation.
You can infer interesting details from what check-offs they are including, what they're omitting, from the nomenclature used, and from the check-off combinations used for specific features and capabilities.
My wife actually works as a senior purchaser for quite a big (non-US) oil company, and it was funny when she had to negotiate the fees with the web-design company that had been asked to implement an internal application. She didn't know anything about the technical side of it, as you well pointed out (even though I helped her out with is), but the sad part was that even her company's online department (the ones that should have known better) were quite on a different planet.
I was reading the post nodding my head in agreement and then I come here and the first post provides a perfect counter point to the post and explains why the blog post may not in fact be correct.
(Those certainly exist, though. Charge more, and they'll mostly inflict themselves on your competitors instead.)
I ended up referring him and his company to my worst sworn enemy competitor, haven't heard from him since.
One of the problems with that is that even jerks have friends. If you reject them, they'll tell those friends and you could lose even more customers.
In this case, when they were going to have to write a custom solution for this customer, it was definitely the way to go.
As a side note, my father asks for 'discounts' all the time. He almost never gets them, and doesn't act entitled when he doesn't, but it sometimes works. So he keeps doing it. I really have to start doing it myself to see what I get.
My experience having done several client management studies with clients, is that jerks have friends ... who are also jerks. (Generalising, of course, but if you've got a solid enough business model you won't mind losing a few good clients if it means not dealing with a larger number of toxic clients.)
Best case study I did was with a branding agency. We got a list of their clients (about 100) and had the owner mark them each as Up, Down, or Neutral in terms of energy. We then had the team explore where each of the 'Down' clients (about 15) came from - half were from the Yellow Pages (again, using my experience, more price-oriented than service or quality) ... and the other half were referrals from the clients who came through the Yellow Pages!
(Of course this almost goes without saying, and I don't doubt you thought of it, but this is such a common logic error that I thought it shouldn't be left hanging in a public forum.)
None of the Up or Neutral clients were Yellow Pages - most were referrals from the same level (ie, Up / great clients had been referred mostly by other Up clients, and similarly with Neutrals, plus some general networking). Which does reinforce the 'you are who you hang with' conclusion I've drawn.
I've found that people who email with no explanation or "sell" of their own but just immediate, terse requests like "What are your rates?" or "I need a copywriter. You available?" are typically NOT interested in finding the right person for themselves or their product; instead, they're looking to just outsource what they think they COULD do themselves, if only they had time/energy/desire.
People who know they're considering (hopefully carefully) how to add value to their product/life are the ones who will take the time to build trust from the beginning, will be honest about expectations, and are more likely to give the freedom and flexibility necessary to maintain a healthy working relationship over time.
I have had experience of clearly being at fault also: twice I have let myself be talked into projects in tech areas where my experience was really thin, and within a short period of time, had to notify the two customers that I was not a good fit to their needs. I was very apologetic both times and obviously did not bill them, but they were out the time documenting the tasks for me.
Actually, I think you should pay extra precaution when dealing with "trashtalking victims", because I think the risk of dealing with a toxic customer is greater than losing a bit of revenue from someone who was genuinely burned.
And another example of toxic customers: people paying with Groupons.
Yes, there's been some development, but using Emacs on TOPS-10 or ITS is an awful lot like using it under Linux in 2010.
That's a huge stretch, and kinda like saying that using Linux is an awful lot like using SunOS 1.0. Sure, the basics of use are the same, and someone who used an ancient emacs version could pickup using a modern version reasonably easily, but syntax highlighting, auto-completion, X and GUI support, windowing, multi-file editing, etc. have been added over the years (and that's just stuff I know of, off the top of my head, and I don't even use emacs). The emacs distribution has grown by several orders of magnitude in size since those TOPS-10 and ITS implementations.
My point is that Emacs is every bit the editor that Visual Studio editor is, and contains pretty much all the same features, and a lot that Visual Studio will never have. And, more importantly, the most productive developers I've ever known used either emacs or vim...I can't think of a single great developer that uses Visual Studio (I'm sure they exist, but I've yet to meet one). It's just idiotic to claim that emacs is an ineffective tool when the evidence is so strong that it is extremely effective for millions of developers.
The moral is that he almost lost a sale, were it not for the other guy stepping in. The moral is that he should have asked to speak with someone else at the company to continue the selling process.
This guy almost blew it.
And in particular, if you're seeing people asking multiple questions that could answered from the website then there's probably something wrong with the site.
The funny part about this one, is I always ask for a discount for no real reason. Even if I am only buying a single piece of software. Why, because it lets me know up front if a vendor is going to be flexible with large volume purchases and OEM arrangements.
Funny story, I was evaluating some screen capture software for OSX not too long ago for a client of mine. I was building a web app for them and part of the work flow for their content was screen capture. Anyway, I emailed a company that had a reputable product and basically told them that I had no need for the pro version, would not be using the pro version for any commercial work but that I would like to use the pro version to teach my daughter about video editing. I then asked if they would consider selling me the pro version at the basic software packages rate. I framed the story in this fashion for several reasons. I had just told the developer/owner that I would be using it for non-commercial and educational purposes both of which usually get some form of pricing plan that is below the commercial mark-up lack of having a plan to deal with either tells me that they do not have a competent pricing structure, and quite possibly that they lack a formal sales organization and negotiating deals later on would be difficult due to lack of attention to pricing structure for the various fringe purchasing needs. Dealing with companies that do not have flexible pricing policies can be difficult when you are dropping large purchases in which no one realistically pays full price per seat.
Anyways, point is be careful of putting earmarks on customers, this small developer lost a $75,000 purchase (what we set aside for a site license) for seats on his product due to the fact that he showed that he was not flexible in his pricing structure. Allowing me to purchase the pro version at the basic version price would have cost him nothing and given the purpose it was purchased under "non-commercial and educational" there was a need to reduce price to be competitive. Instead, I got a dismissive response that the basic version was good enough for my needs and that if I wanted the pro version I would have to pay full price. Needless to say, his competitor was very happy with the $75,000 purchase order.
I guess, long story short, bargain shoppers are not always bad, some people negotiate over what seem to be inconsequential amounts because rather than haggling over dollars they are finding out up front whether a relationship with your company will be tenable.
You want to purchase a large quantity of licenses, and you want a discount for them. So you ask for just one and use it as a proxy to know if the Company is flexible in its pricing? Is this standard practice?
I must say that I was at a company where the purchasing guy was always asking for discounts up front. He often tried to deceive the salesmen (for example he asked for free ISDN-GSM gateways to a telecom guy who ignored its price and thought they would cost like a phone). For him it was "just bussiness" and the way it's played the game.
Were we a toxic customer? For the naivest of our providers, sure we were.
My position was that a vendor that treats a small one off customer with respect and generally tries to help is going to do the same for a large purchaser. I don't expect more than that, but I do expect flexibility as this particular pieces of software would for all intents and purposes be part of my solution, it would reflect on my orginization. Having a non-flexible vendor limits my ability to be flexible, a situation I have no interest in being in. When large portions of money are involved people change, but that does not mean they will stay changed. There is a likelihood that they will revert back to their standard culture on support. By evaluating their support of the smallest purchase and a fringe case, one gets an idea of what the support will be like once the luster of money has worn off. Quite honestly if the developer had politely declined my request, I may have still went ahead with the purchase but when he took a dismissive tone, without critically analyzing the request, it became apparent that he would not provide the level of tact and attentiveness that I would need to make an OEM purchase and use the product in my solution. Again, totally his prerogative and I hold nothing against him for doing so, I expected nothing from him and did not feel that I was entitled to a discount, but I have to defend my companies reputation and vendor selection is a big part of doing so, that being said, I look for vendors that go the extra mile, because I do the same with my clients, and by proxy their ability to support their software in every facet reflects on my organization once it becomes part of my organizations provided solution.
It feels like you're asking for a discount, and having sour grapes when he said no. Tone is very hard to read in text. From the walls of text and the style of your post, I'm not sure you didn't start the cattiness in his mind.
If I did, it was not my intention. The summation of my email to him was pretty much that I have a young daughter that I want to teach video production to. That I think it would be best for her if I could teach her some of the advanced features and I inquired if they had an educational discount program. The last line asked if they did not would they consider selling me a basic license and upgrade me to pro with the explicit agreement that it was to only be used for educational purposes. I feel that I am pretty good at regulating my tone and did not use words that would appear that I felt entitled to such an arrangement. I was polite in my request.
While, my tactic is debatable, I don't think the content or how I approached it was a factor. Further, I have said on multiple occasions that I did not walk away with sour grapes about the exchange, he was totally within his right, I was the one asking for a favor. That is not in dispute, and I was in no way shape or form upset about his decline. The only thing I walk away with was that I felt that I it was better that I had that exchange before a sum of money was involved.
My general take from the approach you describe, paying attention to the "smallest" detail of a deal (and/or bringing ever-smaller details into the deal) is reaching for more and more tenuous reasons to neg the vendor. It's analogous to reducing your tip at a restaurant because your water glass was not promptly refilled, and then further when the silverware is not perfectly parallel..
That's the first that I have heard that it is crazy to negotiate. I have always though it was crazy to not negotiate. That is what sales is a negotiation. I understand that there is an amount of developers who do not like to negotiate. But that does not negate that for a good deal of business negotiation is business as usual.
Naturally, a retort would be that he doesn't think enough of his daughter's education to pay whatever it takes to get the tools to do so.
It's not a retort I would use or allow to come from my organization. Doing so could be seen a comment on ones character, an unnecessary one at that. I guess I see the world different from other developers. I see these kind of requests as the cost of doing business and they don't bother me. I also see the cost of reputation being valuable to me.
We all see the world differently, it's just that communication and, dare i say, negotiation depends on the participants operating with similar terms. In your example you're trying to tip the balance of perfect information by causing the provider to have to account for a question of how legitimate your discount request it. Which it really isn't, because you aren't really that kind of institution.
I hope I'm explaining myself well enough, it's just that it's not a good negotiation if people are exaggerating their terms. Sure, "ask for twice what you want so the compromise is closer to your target number," but this isn't a foolproof strategy.
You never know unless you ask. His response was closer to no go to hell though (just to be clear, he did not tell me to go to hell) and that is what made me chose the path I did.
I am not put off by negotiations, and very much enjoy it when a client negotiates with me, so long as they don't become combative or disrespectful. It gives me an opportunity to show them in detail how much value I am providing for their money. I find that the client that negotiate with me and then see the value seem to be my best customers. The second vendor did just that, took time to show me their value and that is why I chose them. You learn a lot of valuable information about people in negotiations and that was really the point I was trying to drive home, that some times people don't negotiate just to get the best price. Sometimes they see it as a path to insightful information. It's the reason I always negotiate. If that makes me a toxic customer, so be it, but I like to know the paying field before I commit to anything in life.
As well just for the record on this one from your other post:
It's analogous to reducing your tip at a restaurant because your water glass was not promptly refilled, and then further when the silverware is not perfectly parallel..
I have a friend, who does this and I get extremely mad when I am at dinner with him and he does. He does it as a way of rationalizing reducing his tip, he is very cheap and he is a multimillionaire. After several occasions I refused to eat dinner with him, unless I paid and covered tip. He is disconnected from the fact that not everyone has buckets of cash and that that money is a lot more valuable to someone on waiter wages than his principals should be to him. My friend is a good guy, his cheapness just gets the best of him, some times. Anyways, the point I was getting at, is I would never intentionally do that to someone.
I believe you that you did not intend to, but looking at the writing, that's what it is.
Frankly, you've worked hard enough trying to justify yourself in this thread and I don't want to get into a prolonged argument. I just think it's useful, if you're going to contrive a little test to see if someone's being unreasonable, to consider whether you yourself are being unreasonable in applying that test.
Well I stirred the pot, I am going to see it through. If someone replies to me they deserve a response, that is why I am here for discussion. Contrary to what may be perceived, I have a pretty open mind, and am pretty introspective. I freely admit, I am having a hard time seeing where I was unreasonable. I ask a question of the vendor, I did not like the tone of the response (not the content), I did not walk away with sour grapes, just a discomfort with the tone of the response. the other vendor said no as well, they just took time to explain to me that there are codec licenses involved with any sale educational or not and that they would eat cost. A reasonable response, so I bought full price and then did the volume contract.
I totally understand that mentality. I'm just saying I've found it helpful, sometimes, to let other people have the last word. Sometimes my original statement stands for itself and doesn't need to be reiterated.
I don't necessarily think you were being unreasonable. I don't have enough information to really judge that, especially if it comes down to tone. I'm just saying in general that if you're going to do things like this, to keep in mind that the other person is also testing and judging you. Maybe he didn't care about good customer service and your heuristic for determining a good vendor worked, or maybe you tripped his heuristic for determining a toxic customer and he decided to write you off. To some extent that'll have to happen, but it's worth maybe a moment's consideration. That's all.
Remember that the population here is primarily composed of highly technical people. As a rule, they tend to have very black and white views of the world. That probably accounts for the negative responses you're seeing.
To add to your analogy, and you don't tell a girl you just met how much you have in the bank. That's the issue I am having seeing my flaw here, we like to say that we are above that. But telling a girl you just met how much is in the bank is foolish at best. Just as giving up your position in negotiating is foolish.
Anyway, I am not worried about the negative response. I am fine in the hot seat. I do however not like personal attacks. It is the prime reason I frequent HN because they have a stated mission to be above that form of rabble. I mentioned it less for myself and more for the fact that, if that's where we are going I need to stage my exit. I have no interest in contributing to a site that's members result to name calling. I don't want my ideas associated with it.
Also, please use paragraphs. Rambling monoblock responses are another classic sign of a toxic customer.
I would be willing to take that bet. I imagine that I would get a polity worded decline of my request. Unless I sent it directly to Jobs and if I received one of Job's dismissals I imaging I would make the same decision based on the tone. As I have said before, he would be within his right to do so, but I am also within my right (no matter how flawed my decision making process is) to decide to go elsewhere. It seems that I have not been clear in the fact that my decision was not based on whether or not I received the discount (I did not receive the discount from the alternate vendor) but rather the manner in which the request was handled.
Warning Sign #1: Disrespectful or Abrupt
Warning Sign #2: Asks for a Discount (With No Reason)
Warning Sign #4: Unrealistic Expectations
I'm glad you don't have my phone number.
I have said and reiterated that, the developer was in his right, that I know that I was asking for a favor and that I did not walk away sour. Rather I felt that, by his handling of an out of band request in the manner he did, I would not feel comfortable OEM'ing his product. That's it, no entitlement, no pissyness. Just a methodical decision made based on intuition and past experiences. Ignore it if you will, dismiss it if you will, I felt it offered a cautionary tale about the various ways people make purchasing decision.
This is a community site where people come to share ideas. If someone takes the time to reply to my post, I think the respectful thing to do is offer them insight into my though process. If you don't value that or like it downvote me and move on. You are not withing your right to tell me not to voice my perspective. So long as I feel that I can contribute and can offer conversation, I am within my right to post. It may not have occurred to you, that I value this communities ideas and that my posting is to not only give insight but to gain it. As I said before, I am going to see it through, and part of seeing it through is to make sure that I converse with everyone that takes the time to contribute to the conversation I started, after all they took time to respond to me, why would I not show them they same courtesy, if you don't like that, then move on.
As for failing to see that lack of pricing structure is indicative of immaturity in a sales organization I can only assume that that lack of sight comes from the fact that you either have little experience with enterprise and OEM purchasing or have never been in charge of contract negotiations, a inflexible vendor can be soul sucking. Negotiation is a big part of volume purchasing and flexibility in pricing structures is mandatory when dealing with such if there is any hope of creating a long term and mutually beneficial arrangement.
To spell it out, a organization that treated a one off request for a discount due to non-conventional circumstances is a company that shows attention to detail, and a willingness to work with even the smallest purchaser to make them happy. If I told him hey I have 75K would he have responded differently? sure he would have, but where is his breaking point when will he decide that it is not worth supporting me due to the money being in the rear-view. Conversely a guy that supports even the smallest customer is going to treat a volume purchaser very well. Judging by this particular vendors response, I saved myself years of headaches by making a small simple request and I am glad I did.
It is even more important when you deal with a small development house, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen large companies held hostage by a small vendor due to lack of maturity in their sales and customer support process. Ensuring that a potential vendor is not one of those shops is imperative to the happiness of my client and is therefore good business on my end. Vendors are free to have as crappy of sales and support organizations as they see fit, but when it comes to my organization I bend over backwards to make my clients happy and I chose vendors that align with that core philosophy.
This particular vendor was within his right to not give me a discount, I hold nothing against him and I don't hold him account for it but I am also within my right to see that as a sign of lack of maturity in his organization and take my purchasing elsewhere. The purchase reflects on the solution that I was providing for my client, and my ability to support the solution is only as strong as the weakest vendors support. I'm not betting my companies reputation on a vendor that can't even put together non-commercial or educational licensing packages much less an OEM arrangement.
Don't blame him for using the word "lie" when you clearly phrased it like lying:
> Funny story, I was evaluating some screen capture software for OSX not too long ago for a client of mine. I was building a web app for them and part of the work flow for their content was screen capture. Anyway, I emailed a company that had a reputable product and basically told them that I had no need for the pro version, would not be using the pro version for any commercial work but that I would like to use the pro version to teach my daughter about video editing. I then asked if they would consider selling me the pro version at the basic software packages rate. I framed the story in this fashion for several reasons.
basically told them
I framed the story in this fashion for several reasons
I framed the story, is not an admission of lying there where motives beyond the initial purchase, but even if those motives did not exist I intended to purchase software for my daughter, only using a selective portion of my total intent to purchase was in no way lying and in no way disingenuous. I blame him for using the word lie because it is a charged word, that should not be used unless you are certain of the factualness of ones allegations. Calling someone a liar is pretty disingenuous and was done so in this case as a character attack to further his position in his rebuttal. Not as a legitimate response to a legitimate comment.
If you wanted a volume discount, why not ask for a volume discount?
The discount was of no consequence, I was more concerned with their ability to go above and beyond the call of duty. As I have said at multiple points they where free to say no, and well within their right. I hold nothing against them. That being said, if I had seen a good support procedure for an non-standard request, I may have selected them even if they where unwilling to negotiate on price.
For me personally and my organization we go above the call of duty, it is one of our signature marks. So when we are going to by proxy vend another developers product we look for the same. The reason I chose to approach it in the manner I did was due to the fact that I did not have a personal relationship with a developer that provides this type of solution and had no one in my network that did. That coupled with the fact that I personally was looking for a similar solution gave me the opportunity to do so. I don't think my approach was illogical but it was based on a certain level of intuition, something that I freely admitted to in another reply.
I don't think your bellwether test is that good of a test. I know lots of people who turn down educational requests when not from schools out of hand.
Truth be told it was never intentionally a test. Both teaching my daughter and the volume license coincided. It may be that when the idea for the solution we where to provide was pitch I though hey it would be good to tech my daughter video editing. But I don't remember if that is where that spark started or not. Anyway, point is both occurred in the same time frame so I shopped the educational requirement first. I did however go into it with intention of establishing a rapport with a developer that could vend the second requirement.
I think this is the first time in the thread that it came out that you actually have a daughter and were actually considering teaching her with the software. In your first telling, it sounded (to me, and I think to others) like this was entirely made up for the purpose of testing the vendor's response. So it was puzzling that you objected so vehemently to it being called a "lie". Re-reading it now, though, I don't see what part of your comment made me think that (though it's not an obviously wrong interpretation either); maybe it was the influence of other comments.
That being said, I can see where the post could be construed that it was not the true reason for the initial contact. I still think there is enough ambiguity that I should have been given the benefit of the doubt.
Asserting that you gained any real insight into their business acumen or their suitability for your real purchasing needs with your strange test seems deeply misguided. And your delivery makes it entirely understandable if people take away from your post a reading that you are simply self-satisfied at having wielded that purchasing power so capriciously.
Now, after some initial rounds of criticism (and the consequent derail of much of this thread), you've stooped to repeatedly decrying the decline of HN and its devolution into slashdot (although you are apparently finding posts that agree with you to be restorative of hope on that front).
I have stated on several occasions that the flexibility that I was looking for was customer service in the sales process. I also clarified that it was the tone of the developers response served as a red flag to me, the discount was of ill consequence.
Now, after some initial rounds of criticism (and the consequent derail of much of this thread), you've stooped to repeatedly decrying the decline of HN and its devolution into slashdot (although you are apparently finding posts that agree with you to be restorative of hope on that front).
I chose HN after a long stay out of all communities because I did not like the direction that most have them had taken. If you review my post history, you will find it evident that I do not make personal attacks and when I respond to someone, I try to to show them that I value their comment by providing what I think is a well thought out response.
Given my history of finding most sites pointless due to the noise to value ratio and what I feel is an investment of my time to help contribute to HN to make it what it's stated goals are, I do find it disheartening when a comment, that, if you take away the emotion, is totally devoid of value and whos only purpose was to serve as character assassination.
I mean can you honestly look at the post I complained about and defend it as being anything other than a pop shot. One thing I can say for sure, is that no matter my position on a subject, I would not support such a post. I have seen the trend other complain about, and have tried to deny it, make excused for it and ignore it.
So with it so evident in that post I decided to confront it, because I really do want to know if, when critically analyzed, do the members of HN support that kind of regard for other members, that offer a genuine post (whether you agree with it or not, my intent was to contribute to HN).
So given that I feel that I contribute value to HN, I want to know if this is how people that contribute are valued. Because if the answer is yes, then it is time for me to go.
I realized when I posted it, that it would most likely come off as that I am just sour about my message not being received, and people are free to infer what they will about my complaining about it, but if you take away the bias of my original post, go back and read that post, I think you will find it clearly evident that there was little regard for the contribution of a member and an intent to aggravate and malign for having a different view point that the majority.
I asked and would love an answer to is this now acceptable by the majority of HN. Obviously for my continuing to post, I do not believe it is, but the seed of doubt has been planted by other members that I respect so with an example of it so obvious, I felt compelled to not only highlight it but to confront the issue head on.
Right you did not, that was mentioned in another post you did however say that "how stupid of them to not give me a discount" so I carried over the outsmarted perception because they where similar. If it appeared that I put words in your mouth I apologize it was not my intent.
Whether that's their fault or not, you might want to consider changing your writing to avoid this
Point taken, I am well aware of the fact that I did not communicate the story well, that or I see the world different from other developer in either case. I think this thread chain serves as evidence to that fact. It is not in dispute.
Not that it amounts to a hill of beans, but it was already a long post, I trimmed it to shorten it, I think in doing so, I omitted some important details. Further I tried very hard to not inject the developers response, because I did not want to bias the intent of my post with charged rhetoric, I also omitted that I ended up paying full price to the alternate, which I think further slanted the perception that my decision was based merely on not getting my way for a non-standard request.
Unfortunately, it's very hard to discover how much minor decisions like this cost you.
It cost me nothing, I went with a secondary vendor that I was comfortable with. They have been great, the client is in talks with them about an acquisition so that they can provide the full stack from one organization. I lost nothing by eliminating a vendor that I was not comfortable with, while I stood the chance to loose a good deal of reputation by doing so.
Did you try to get bids from both company's?
Did you varify that they where in fact idential pieces of software?
Yes, they did not give me the discount, but explained why they where unable to and pointed me to an evaluation version that was full featured but had a save limitation.
Both had the requisite functionality.
Now, there are any number of reasons not to try and get bids from another company. So the next assumption that the other companies more positive response changed your actions is really based on two assumptions, there was a more positive response and the new assumption that it caused you to respond differently... and so it goes until I can build towers of logic from a series of assumptions.
Which finally gets back to my point. You don’t seem to be propagating uncertainty when you describe your thinking. Without comparing both company's responses to your bids we don't have any new information about your assumptions, thus confirmation bias.
The second response was, paraphrased: While we understand the needs of educational software, we cannot offer educational discounts for non accredited educational use. The video codecs that we use require us to pay licensing fees for each seat sold unless that seat is used for accredited educational use. I am really sorry but please see our position, when developers salaries are added in we will eat the cost of those codecs if we sold the software at our educational price.
To spell it out even more slowly than other people have above, developers who do one-offs with discounts are developers whose companies go out of business. It's not profitable and not scaleable. It's not a lack of maturity, it's maturity.
If you are worried about your clients, then write a contract with vendors that specify an SLA for support requests. For enough money they should be happy to do this and it's a very reasonable request.
Lying about it seems wrong and stupid.
However, two points: (1) it's perfectly reasonable for the vendor to think you're trying to scam him out of his or her higher priced, higher capability software; and (2), using this as a proxy of whether he or she will be flexible and helpful on a larger order is stupid. Because you entered the door as a cut rate single license purchaser, and used that as a proxy to evaluate the vendor providing bulk services.
I've sold highly priced consulting services, and people who want cheap shit get directed elsewhere because that's not what I do. If you need help for a couple hours and want a discount, the answer is of course not. If you want 100 hours and want a discount, the answer is of course. The vendor is in an obviously parallel position.
Edit: you in fact just said the vendor was dismissive. ie you got butthurt because he or she didn't want to give something valuable away for free for a one off. Who quite possibly was a scammer. And you appear to be pissy because someone else didn't want to subsidize your parenting. Sigh.
http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/vanhalen.asp You can embed a lot of reason into a non-standard request. Some times it can serve as an indication as to attention to detail. We can argue the merits, but it has worked for me and it is not uncommon. The above link is probably the mother of all non-standard requests and it served a very specific purpose. I think there is value in it, as well there are several renowned, well respected and published negotiators who lend credibility to effectiveness of the practice.
In this instance it worked for me, as well I do have pretty extensive experience in negotiating. In one of my start-ups I negotiated our sale to hotels.com as well with another I negotiated our sale to TUI. So I think I do have some valuable insight into negotiations and selecting companies that have complementary cultures.
To each there own, my style of negotiation has served me well and until I learn a more effective strategy it's the best game face I have.