I have been working with Oracle sales people for a long time. In fact, it’s been over 20 years. The first 15+ I was at Oracle supporting sales and running Oracle’s contracts teams. The last 4+ years I’ve been at Palisade supporting our clients in their dealings with Oracle. I know Oracle sales. I know how to motivate and demotivate them. If anyone knows how aggressive Oracle sales can be, it’s me. I’ve seen it all (on both sides), the good, the bad, the ugly. Well, at least I thought I saw it all until my client told me this.
Earlier this week we were having a standard debrief meeting with a new client. Oracle’s Q3 just ended, and I was expecting a review what transpired, negotiation overview, next steps to move forward and continue the work with Oracle. It was supposed to be our internal kickoff on this phase of our engagement with the client. Towards the end of the call, the client said something that literally stopped me in my tracks. He said:
“Craig, [the Oracle sales VP] has sent me over 800 texts and emails since December.”
It was an off-handed throwaway comment. Like it was normal. Like there was nothing wrong with a sales person (or anyone) sending a client 800 texts/emails in that short period a time. I thought he was joking or at the very least exaggerating. When I pressed on the 800 number he told me has saved every email and text and the count is “over 800.” WOW. I knew Oracle was putting pressure; I just didn’t know it was to that extent.
Let’s put this in perspective. We’ll give the Oracle VP the benefit of the doubt and say this started on Dec 1 and went until March 1. They even get leap day for 91 days. That is over 9 emails and text messages a day, 7 days a week, for 3 months. Count only business days and it’s over 13 emails/texts every business day since December 1. What would you do if a vendor sent you over 13 emails/texts a day for 3 months. Oh, and many of the emails/texts were not warm and fuzzy. Our client described them as “unprofessional” and “threatening”. All this doesn’t include the phone calls and meetings!!
The thing that really worries me, besides the brutal Oracle sales onslaught, is that people think this is normal behavior. “It’s just Oracle being Oracle.” Let me be clear on what I think: This is not normal and acceptable behavior!!! Does it rise to the level of harassment? Bullying? I don’t know. But I do know it’s not normal, and it’s not something anyone should stand for.
At Palisade, when we come across a sales person or team that is out of control with a client, we give the client a clear plan so they can take back control. Oracle is famous for giving clients timelines and schedules to get a deal done. Those are all nice but they are all based on Oracle’s world. We help clients develop their own timelines based on the client’s goals and deadlines and priorities. The client dictates the meeting frequency and schedule. The client dictates the communications. Oracle is the vendor. Oracle should take the client’s lead. Rest assured that’s happening now with our client and this particular Oracle sales VP!!
I’ll be writing a lot more about Oracle high pressure tactics and what you can do about it. There have been some interesting articles in the media recently where customers are finally stepping into the light and exposing this behavior. Oh by the way, these are Palisade customers who are empowered to fight back!