My worst sales moment
“The Chairman’s Discount” by Charles Wemyss
This is a story that happened about 20 years ago when I was the salesman for a large company, selling telephone systems. We had been working hard and had just won a deal to supply a large phone system to the offices of one of the UK’s largest catalogue sales companies. We had slashed our prices to the bone and had had to jump over a large number of hoops to win the deal.
When the customer suggested that we come up to their headquarters for a contract signing ceremony – we were delighted. They said that they would arrange for the Chairman to sign the contract in person and that they would get some members of the press to come up and take pictures. They said that since their chairman was present I should arrange to bring up our Managing Director
We duly arrived on the day, with my Managing Director, dressed in our best bib and tucker. We were shown into a side room and were told that the press and the chairman were waiting for us in the board room.
We were asked if we had the contracts ready for signing. They quickly checked them and asked if we had included the ‘Chairman’s discount’. “What Chairman’s discount?” we asked. We were told that the chairman would only sign the contract if he got his own personal bit of extra discount – typically 5%.
When we tried to argue we were told that if we didn’t agree the Chairman would not sign and the waiting press would be sent home empty handed. Wanting to avoid embarrassment and having the Managing Director present as the key decision maker present we reluctantly agreed to an extra “Chairman’s discount.”
We had been well and truly stitched up – and there was nothing that we could do about it. Still it taught us a lesson and after that day when negotiating – we never forgot about the Chairman’s Discount.
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