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How to get out of an abusive business relationship


Everyone, myself included, knows or has known someonegabe perez   Gabe Perez stuck in a bad relationship. It was all roses for a while, but now things have gone beyond sour and the relationship is downright abusive. It makes you crazy because seems so obvious that the mistreated party should just walk away. So why don’t they?


Seeing these kinds of relationships in my personal life, it’s become glaringly evident to me over the past couple of years that they aren’t just person to person. They’re business to business too, and though the abuse is not physical or life-threatening, many of the underlying dynamics are the same. Customers behave badly toward vendors or vice versa, and this scenario seems just as prevalent, if not more so, than in personal relationships.


As a sales leader for a disruptive enterprise software solution, I see it all the time. I’m typically coming into a business where there’s a legacy vendor who’s been mistreating the customer for a long time. Even though the customer is clearly unhappy and being shortchanged in the relationship, they still find it very difficult to end it. I know this is not unique to my industry.


Both in personal life and in the business world, walkingbreaking rankTo get out of an abusive business relationship, you need at least one person to break rank. away is easier said than done. Whether you’re in my position of trying to sell something new and better against entrenched competitors, or you are in a company that is in an abusive relationship with a vendor or customer and want to end it, it’s helpful to understand what you’re up against and how you can escape.


Ties that bind

In business, especially with enterprise software, there are people who have built teams, processes and their professional status around a solution. These people will often fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, no matter how obvious it is that it’s not working.


There are also partner and executive relationships. We recently lost a deal at the end of a rigorous 9-month evaluation where all constituents agreed my company had the superior solution, and we even had a negotiated contract ready to sign.  The legacy vendor used the threat of ending an existing partnership in another, unrelated line of business as a trump card to win the deal at the 11th hour.


A process of rationalization

Bad business relationships usually start out with high hopes and good intentions and become abusive through a slow process of compartmentalization and rationalization. There’s a saying that if you drop a live frog in a pot of boiling water, he’ll hop right back out. But if you put him in a pot of cold water and bring it to a boil, you’ll have frog soup. That’s a pretty good description of how bad relationships take hold.


Maybe there were some warning signs early in the relationship—maybe a little too much conceded on price, or an onerous term or two that got slipped into the contract. In the initial excitement of the early stages of the relationship, it’s easy to make excuses for small irritants and see them as isolated incidents.


Continuing along that path, you can easily wind up four or five years down the road, having spent millions of dollars for “extras”, including additional services for basic enablement, or even more software than was needed, and not only are you not close to the ROI you were promised, you don't even have the basics working.


What are the signs you might be in an abusive business relationship? Here are three classic behaviors of bad actors:


The blame game  - They try to convince you that it’s your fault that things have gone south, and that they’re actually the victim. The version of this I see most often is vendors who tell the client they didn’t hire the right people, that their systems couldn’t be integrated and so on.  I’m still amazed at how often customers believe it.  The customer will concede, unnecessarily, that his or her company “failed to implement a product properly” or that their organization “didn't have proper change management."


Stringing you along – They divert attention from real problems by creating distractions. In an enterprise software scenario, that might be giving away free modules, selling you expanded services or painting a pretty picture of the next upgrade that’s going to fix everything--if you can just hold on.


Promising to change - As it becomes clearer that things aren’t working, they use promises to change can keep victims from moving on. Tactics I’ve seen include giving away a new interface, and putting new people on your account. Another one I see a lot in my world is, “this is the cloud version. You're on the old, on-premise version so the cloud is going to make everything better."


How do you escape from this kind of relationship? With compassion, empathy, patience, truth, support, openness and perhaps most of all, with a clear view of a new path ahead.


Anyone who has tried to convince a friend or relative to leave a bad relationship or who has been in a long, dogfight of a sales cycle knows how difficult it is for someone to admit what they are doing is not working. It takes an incredible amount of courage.


Even then, it’s difficult to change. People fear change, loss and the unknown. Organizations will often double down on a bad relationship under the theory that the “devil they know” is better than the risk and uncertainty of change.


Breaking rank

You need that one person in the organization who is willing to break rank and say, "We have to do the best thing for our company. Take off your rose-colored glasses, and look at the truth. This company has had every opportunity to keep their promises and hasn’t done so. They are not going to change."


You also need the support of a strong executive sponsor, since you are often going up against your own people, exposing a wrong, and these are the people you have to come to work with every day. Sometimes you also need external support from a consultant or alternate vendor.


With those elements in place you can start to build consensus. It’s a long road, and you have to consistently and transparently counter fearmongering and lies with facts and evidence so that the truth can prevail.


At the same time, you have to paint a picture of a clear path forward to something better. It’s not enough to be moving away from something bad. People have to be confident they’re going towards something good.


Even with all that, sometimes they still aren’t ready to walk away. But if they do, they have a great chance to experience something better and to find a relationship that can grow and flourish, and most importantly, unrealized goals will finally become a reality.


Gabe Perez is Senior Solutions Director, Global Major Accounts for Coupa.




What makes a great mobile app? Simplicity.

When designing apps, it's tempting to want to include a laundry list of features that will please everyone. The most successful app developers have found that less is more. Overloading apps can lead to problems. Too many features tend to confuse and annoy users. With over 21 billion app downloads in 2013, it's a crowded marketplace. The most successful apps today are using flat, simple typographical designs. Here's an in-depth look at this evolving trend and some exemplary apps.



simple mobile apps

Is your company ready for the cloud: a 12-point checklist


As cloud computing crosses the chasm from “pi in the sky” to mass adoption, ravi thakur  Ravi Thakurcompanies are beginning to approach technology purchases with a cloud first or why not cloud strategy. But is your company ready for the cloud? Here are some practical considerations:


  1. Do you have enough internet capacity to all the locations where you want to use a cloud solution?
  2. Do you have an integration strategy for getting cloud solutions talking to each other, and to on-premise solutions?
  3. Is the business ready to


Mobile invoice approvals free up time for nerf gun battles





We’ve all got a lot on our plates at work—such as ping-pong tournaments, yoga, epic nerf gun battles and hanging out with Suzie the Snake.


That’s why Coupa mobile is bringing invoice approval to your cell phone. You’ll see all of the key invoice details right on your screen, so you can approve invoices that are ready to pay, reject any invoices that have issues, and leave comments to let everyone in the approval chain know why. When it’s this easy you don’t have to worry about interruptions to your other responsibilities.


Check it out in this 45-second video starring our mulit-talented dev team, Martijn (Invoice PM), Chris Yin (Mobile PM), Sal and Jeff (iOS Devs), Pallavi, Rofaida and Suzie, who's helping us put a stranglehold on our competition when she's not making videos. Props to Adhitya (our film intern), for recording and editing!


If you don't have it already - download the app here: Coupa Mobile iOS App. Can't see the video? Click here.




IT needs to be strategic to get benefit of cloud computing


Over the past couple of years, we’ve all heard plenty of buzz about the ravi thakurRavi Thakurcloud computing transformation. Many companies grasped the cloud vision early and are now several years into their cloud journey. Many more that have been sitting on the sidelines are beginning to adopt a “Why not cloud” or “Cloud first” strategy.


Now that the hype is settling down, let’s take a look at what it takes to be ready to benefit from the cloud, and the real transformation it brings.


Aside from the obvious, such as having enough internet capacity to all the locations where you want to use a cloud solution, and having an integration strategy to bring your solutions together, there’s something less technical and more fundamental companies need to be ready for the cloud: collaboration between IT and


Inventory application development team's got talent!

At our Inspire conference earlier this year, we introduced Coupa Inventory. In a recent review, industry analyst Jason Busch of Spend Matters had this to say about it: 


"We applaud Coupa for keeping inventory management simple – and creating what is a logical value proposition and upsell that should complement its core P2P vision for helping companies truly capture and manage more spend while driving better outcomes and savings wherever possible."
Inventory Product Manager Chris Yin led a very talented team that brought the Inventory application to market in just 9 months. Turns out the team, including Kira Letskina, Brent Wooden, Chris Fung, Brian Farr and Mikhail Knyazev is multi-talented. They also made and starred in this video about the effort. We think you'll agree, this team's got talent!









Spend analytics helps avoid awkward moments with suppliers


Working with organizations in various sourcing and dipan karumsi  Dipan Karumsiprocurement roles over the past 17 years, one of the common challenges I see is not having access to information on a timely basis. The good news is, real-time, or near real-time spend analytics is within reach for companies willing to undertake a process of continual improvement, and there is a definite competitive edge to be gained by doing so.


Based on what I have seen, a three-month lag from the time of spend to availability of reporting is common, and many organizations cannot get access to data about spend that took place as long as six months ago. Real-time data is almost out of the question for most organizations, because by the time they run the reports, check for data integrity and test to make sure


The one question not to ask your startup SaaS provider


There’s a certain amount of risk involved for customersrob-blue-shirtRob Bernshsteyn of startup SaaS vendor. There’s also a benefit—when you’re customer number ten, you are going to get a lot of attention and resources.

As the startup grows, customers and prospects begin to ask what they believe to be the key question, "Will we get all the attention we need?”


I firmly believe that this is not the question to be asking.


At first blush, that question sounds fair. With the current industry focus on customer success, existing customers want to know that they will continue to be special. Prospects want to know if as the company grows, there will be enough bandwidth to focus on them.


This is natural enough. If you’re at a busy hotel and they only have one


6 procurement leaders to follow on Twitter

Think procurement people aren't on Twitter? Think again. If you follow this blog, you know Procurement is undergoing a transformatiion, with new platforms and tools and a new attitude about becoming more strategic and influential. There's no better place to stay up to the minute with the latest news and trends affecting procurement professionals than Twitter. Here are six people to follow for some of the smartest conversation around procurement today: 


Spend Matters - @spendmatters

spendmattersnew@spendmatters publishes daily news from the world of procurement and supply chain management, as well as analysis of how global events impact these functions.


They follow all the major vendors in the space, providing updates on all the latest features and functionality.


They publish in-depth reports on a wide variety of procurement and supply chain related topics. We like them for their tongue-in-cheek humor and bold and bold and fearless predictions.


The lure of the logo: What is the best startup strategy ?


Back in 2009, when I just raised my first round of venturerob-blue-shirt   Rob Bernshteyn capital for Coupa Software, sales got a big logo on the hook—a huge company whose cash in our coffers and logo on our website could have given our fledgling enterprise a big boost. They were looking for a multilingual, multicurrency global deployment that was right in our sweet spot--and a lot of other work that was not so much so.


While visions of huge commission checks danced in the heads of our sales team, an internal debate took place among company management.


One side said that we could get paid handsomely and leverage this logo to bring in other big logos in the same industry.


The other side conceded that this was probably true, but there would be a lot of custom development required to support the customer’s many unique business processes.


They were willing to pay over $100K a month to do co-development,


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