World Class Blog, Tossed Under The Bus

William got a call from a client. Not just any client, his number one client. He was to meet Doug at his office tomorrow morning to finalize the details of their latest deal. “Hey, how you doing?”. It all started familiar and friendly enough; then the penny dropped, or so William thought. “Listen we’ve been thinking we want some changes done before we meet tomorrow morning.” So what do you say? ~ a little taken back but very much committed to the client and getting the deal done, “sure, what are they?”.

Turns out the changes weren’t insignificant, in a perfect world they could be done in about seven days. Doug didn’t care, not his problem. He insisted they needed these alternatives done before the scheduled 8:00 am meeting tomorrow. Not a request really, it had the implied tone of an ultimatum. William hung up the phone and started processing next steps, his head reeling, his stomach starting to twist and his normally rational mind stalled, WTF. This day wasn’t going to be anything like the one he had scheduled.

Seven days work in 12 hours. The brain first shifts to denial and accusations, “impossible, can’t be done, are they mad?”. Then the reality check-in, clear today’s calendar, rally the team, put all resources on standby ~ we need this deal to close on time. Well, kind of true, William needed this deal, the quarter had not been stellar, and this is the one that is going to save his bacon.

He hacked a solution, cobbled together changes from other reports, modified the numbers, reworked the assumptions and worked the phones to get buy-in’s and concessions. William pushed, cajoled, called in favours and burned bridges. Moving at breakneck speed and whirling through the day like a short-tempered junkyard dog. By 7 pm he was on his own, 4 am the printer jammed, hopped up on too much caffeine, hungry, sleep deprived and having used every expletive he ever heard, he pushed through the night. Finally, he had it together in time to run home grab a quick shower, change and make his 8:00 am meeting.

Quietly proud of his accomplishment, a little punchy and bleary eyed he headed into Doug’s office. Pulled out the modifications, the revised contract and passed them across the desk. Doug picked them up, looked at the cover, then tossed them back to William without even cracking them open. We felt your pricing had been off lately. So we shopped your original proposal and pricing to the market, turns out we’ve been overpaying. We had folks lined up with savings of 25 to 30%.

“You did what! You took our work and our pricing and shopped it to the market? Of course they came in with savings, they’re buying your business.” The banter went back and forth; Doug would come up with an objection to the current program, William answered the objection. Finally, Doug shut it down with the ominous words “Thanks, William but this is a done deal we signed the contracts yesterday just after you and I spoke in the morning”.

So what do you do at this point? Having been thrown under the bus and now being unceremoniously dismissed. Barely able to keep his emotions contained. Fuelled by feelings of betrayal, sparked with righteous indignation, his mind reeled, his face flushed, his emotions went through the roof. William went through a litany of possibilities in his mind.

Climb across the desk and get his hands around Doug’s throat
Cry and beg for mercy
Insult his mother, his morals and his ethics
Immediately take 30% off your price, and imply you’ve been gouging them for years
Thank him for his business, change the subject then slink out under the carpet
Insult the competition calling them slime-mongers and degenerate opportunists
Vow to never deal with Doug or his company; unless Hell actually freezes over

What do you do when you find yourself thrown under the bus, taken advantage of, betrayed, or used?

The solution, first and foremost maintain your dignity.

Check your emotions at the door
Be logical, fact based and uncompromising
Wear your core values on your sleeve
Leave the door open for another day or the next encounter
Be willing to negotiate transparently, toward a mutually agreeable solution
Tell your client this, clearly, with personal resolve and sincerity
Steel yourself against anything that would make you feel like a victim
Appropriately devalue this client in your current book of business
Listen and adhere to what your intuition says is best for you and your future

You may not always win, but you can ALWAYS ~ Think World Class