I just read Ron Morris’ blog post about email being man’s worst friend and it brought back a memory that I’d like to share with you…
I was in my fourth year as a purchasing professional and had earned my way to some serious responsibility. I was working on a sourcing project valued somewhere in the $50 million range.
Well, one of the top two suppliers we were considering after the RFP analysis was done really wanted this business (obviously). They wanted it so bad that they resorted to that timeless dirty sales trick – back door selling.
I was negotiating with their sales director and contract manager. But, when we got to what seemed to be becoming an impasse, their VP called the VP of the department who was our internal customer for this procurement and engaged him in a impromptu negotiation.
Of course, with our VP’s ego, he wouldn’t have said “I’m not interested in having this discussion. Talk to Purchasing.” He thought he was a great negotiator (what VP doesn’t?), so he participated in the conversation.
This was a dangerous situation from a procurement negotiation standpoint. The negotiation could have easily been derailed or we could have made commitments that would cost the company some serious money or hurt our ability to serve our customers.
So I put together a summary of the issues at hand for the VP that he may be confronted with if our supplier chose to contact him unexpectedly. This was totally informational.
Many years later, I can’t remember what exactly the VP took exception to, but I got a nasty email back from the VP, beginning with the phrase “YOUNG MAN…” There is no way that it can be good news to receive an email from a VP that starts out that way.
And my boss was copied in. And her boss was copied in.
Fortunately, I was very well respected by those particular leaders and they agreed that they had no idea what he misinterpreted. But a very important lesson came out of that…
When dealing with important people, no matter how innocuous the topic may seem, never, Never, NEVER communicate anything of potential consequence by email. I’ve never heard of a phone call killing anyone and I’d bet that picking up the phone wouldn’t kill you, either.
You’ve learned it from Ron Morris’ war story. You’ve learned it from my war story. Hopefully that will prevent you from having your own war story to tell…