I called Charles for the first time, and asked his feedback regarding the partnership that my previous incumbent (Vanessa) proposed. Charles was annoyed with my question, and told me that meeting Vanessa was a big waste of time.
“She went to my office without knowing a single thing about my company. I had to explain what we do, who our clients are, and everything else that can be easily seen in our website!” Charles exclaimed.
I apologized, and tried to press for more information about their requirements. Unfortunately, Charles was no longer in the mood to give me information other than, “the project is already ongoing.” Fortunately, I was able to secure another meeting with him to discuss the project.
I went to our project manager, James, and requested for him to join the meeting. Since the project is already ongoing, it would save a lot of time if James can get the operational concerns ready so that we can fast track the partnership. Unexpectedly, Charles didn’t attend the meeting and booked us with his subordinates instead.
It turns out that the project will be live 2-3 months from now. Most of the information that James needed were still being explored by management, and James had to do a report first on our potential operational capabilities for their segment for us to be given the business.
I saw James make face and lose interest in the discussion. After the meeting, he complained that I wasted his time on an exploratory meeting. I felt guilty for wasting his time on a meeting that I could have handled. However I felt that it was the right decision to be overly prepared this time than risk irking the client a second time and probably the last time. And until now, this is what I believe in. Nonetheless, after thinking about it deeply, there could have been nuances and actions that I could have done to ensure that everything is aligned:
When including people in a meeting, make them understand your goals for that meeting first, and then inform them why they are necessary in achieving those goals. Ask them for their own goals, and confirm that each are aligned. Otherwise, reconsider having them there.
What do you think? Are there other ways you know to avoid “wasting” the time of our operations people on sales calls, exploratory meetings, and basically tasks outside actual operations? Let me know!