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I’m Looking For A Plane; It’s Blue

, , , , , | Right | June 17, 2022

I used to work in sales for an aerospace company that made highly specialized parts. Mostly the parts we sold came in roughly three different shapes (bushings, bearings, and rollers) but there could be thousands upon thousands of variations on the parts based on materials or plating used as well as sizes. Since these are parts for aerospace, the sizes can be defined down to the thousandths of a decimal place because the tolerances can be that tight. Depending on the size/material/etc., our prices could range from $25 a piece to thousands of dollars for a single part. Usually, a customer coming in for a quote would provide either a specific part number or provide the part type, materials, and size. Not this woman, though.

One day, I received an email from a potential new customer requesting a quote for a part. I asked her to provide me with some detail on what she needed, and a little while later, I got an email saying she needed a quote on the attached. I opened the attachment and nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

She had gone to our website and printed out our company header, which included a picture of some of the parts we could manufacture artfully strewn about. She had circled one of the parts from this pile in pen, written, “I need this,” then scanned the picture, and attached it to her email.

Eventually, I was able to get more details on what she wanted and was able to help her, but that initial attachment was the equivalent of walking into a bookstore and saying, “I need a book; I think it’s blue,” but a thousand times worse.

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