How to be a Crony by Reading between the Lines

There was this discussion about experiences that vendors go through when they're in the middle of a tender or price negotiations. For the record, I have either NOT encountered any such Dark Managers, or its an art that needs to be honed further.

Apparently, one needs to "infer", the hints thrown across the opposite end of the table and work behind the scenes in fulfilling those needs. For example:-

  1. I do not believe that my phone will work well with your solution.
    Emphasis on the work "my", as it really means; if you wanna be my buddy - by all means give me a new phone asap. Especially one that'll work with the solution.

    It's not necessarily a phone, but could be anything. For example, I do not think my firewall will be able to work with the solution. If the person is a straight shooter, it's probably true, but more often than not its a lazy manager that's been sitting on an upgrade to an old firewall that's 12 years old and about 200 patches behind.

  2. I'm sorry, my kids are screaming at me for an x-box and I need to go now...
    Perk your ears for any "domestic" complaints, it's actually a problem requiring a solution. In this over simplified scenario, it's an x-box. It could be anywhere from "my girlfriend wants to go to a concert and I can't seem to find the time" to "I think I twisted my back the other day..." which really means, I need a spa weekend massage. Happy ending or not depends on the person.

  3. How many customers have used your product?
    This yells SITE VISIT like a beacon, just jump right through it and get it done and over with. Book your tickets to Thailand, Singapore and South Africa (hint - world cup), Vegas etc. Never mind that the closest demo center is just a 15 minutes drive.

  4. Can you tell me the benefits of this system?
    Book a personal time later to explore what kind of "benefits" tickle the Dark Manager's fancy. Especially when you ask whether he/she requires more private time with the "team" to go through it in detail.

  5. How many users can this system support?
    The question above shows doubt, which requires "investments" in terms of a "proof-of-concept" machines. I.e. the operations team requires a loaner as they're facing an IT catastrophe. Oh, be warned though, the loaners tend to go missing or returned to you 2 years later.
Once you've fulfill most of the needs, the hints will be more obvious and by then you're pretty much a good friend. Feel free to add-on to the list...

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