It has been a very rough week. I found that one of my sales reps had bid for one of our products at a fourth of the cost. Moreover, as the week unfolded, the sales rep never told me that there was a “special discount” for this particular customer that was verbally agreed upon – but not in writing – and has been going on for a year.
An order came through on the fax that the CFO picked up and brought it to my attention. The CEO was involved, the President was involved, and it took me a week to pull together legal documents to ensure that the product (basically our livelihood) was going to be protected as it was shipped out the door.
The problem is that another order was brought to my attention by the rep. “Here is another signed order that they are waiting for.” But, the rep NEVER proceeded to tell me that this was something that had been going on for nearly twelve months. Instead, the distributor called me ranting and raving. I indicated that “Bill” was never authorized to give that particular discount. “We’ve been doing this for a year!” was the response. So, “Bill” had been keeping this from me, and, when the huge product issue came up, STILL never mentioned, “and by the way, I had this discount in place for twelve months now.”
Finally, I asked the rep for a variety of materials so that I can produce a letter to the customer, indicating that effective on X date, we will no longer honor this (ludicrous) discount that they had been enjoying for a year, blah, blah, blah. I needed some things to finalize and place a call to the customer next week. I’m a very visual person, so I always need to see scenarios on discounts, why they wanted this particular bargain-basement price, how much it impacts us, etc. So, I called the rep and said I needed it. Here’s his response:
“When do you need this? I’m a little overwhelmed since I’ve been dealing with this all week and need to get to other things…”
If I could have crawled through the phone I would have and I would have went straight to the jugular. Instead, being Italian, Type-A, and probably (but not diagnosed) ADHD, I let him have it and asked for everything by noon.
This particular rep is lucky. In any other company, not only the rep, but myself, would have been on the firing line.
My advice to everyone is:
(2) Be sure that your manager knows exactly what is going on. Special terms, special discussions with customers, and special arrangements need to be in writing and approved by your manager.