Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That Is Discounted!

This story is from the early days of R-Squared Computing...

Three months after we hung out our shingle, BHF and I landed our first customer. It was a construction company owned by friends of my father's. They wanted to upgrade their network and needed help redesigning their business processes.

After the usual preliminary investigation, we put our heads together. BHF designed the new network including 2 new servers and I went to town on the process redesign. Once everything was completed we wrote up our very first Proposal!

I can't tell you how exciting it was. After 3 months of making faces at each other, waiting for customers, we finally had the chance to land our first client.

We arrived at the customer's offices to discuss the proposal. Now, this was a family-owned construction company. We had our meeting sitting on the couches in the lobby. Both husband and wife owners were present, watched over by their enormous American Allaunt. Needless to say we were nervous.

Now, even under the best of circumstances, BHF did not deal well with stress. He is a self-proclaimed asocial introvert while I am a social extrovert. It's a complementary relationship. I digress...

During the presentation, the owners kept interrupting with questions, comments and requests for additional details. It was clear that (like most of our customers) they did not really understand information technology. Most questions were attempts to better understand the reasoning behind items included in the proposal.

The entire time, I kept glancing at BHF as he fidgetted during the intense questioning.

Finally we get to the money part of the proposal. The husband nodded sagely and asked:
"So, what's my discount?"
Before I oculd open my mouth, before I could breathe, before I could do anything - BHF aggressively blurts:
"That IS discounted!"
The look on their faces was priceless. You have to understand that the folks in the construction industry are pretty much used to every insane negotiating tactic ever invented. They have heard every sob story, threat, jargon-laded rambles and outright sales lies. However, they were completely unprepared for the Full Frontal Assault technique used by BHF.

Before the look of complete shock left their faces, I recovered brilliantly (if I do say so myself):
"What my esteemed partner means to say is that because of the long standing relationship between our families, we have already included a generous discount."
The husband and wife exchanged a look and then he signed the proposal. We got a check 5 minutes later. We started the job the next day.

On the ride home from their offices, I kept shouting "That is discounted!" over and over. When I told my father the story he practically fell down laughing. BHF has never lived this one down.

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