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Artemis_Tardis
11-22-2014, 06:32 AM
For instance, let's say that Bank Of America wants to do a deal with Microsoft. How do they communicate with each other? They can't obviously call costumer service. And they probably can't call each others offices, this would be way too confusing (and prone to scams and having an angry costumer finding out this number and flooding them with angry phone calls). So, there must obviously be a "underground" network that allows big companies to communicate. How does that work?

bob++
11-22-2014, 06:48 AM
These people all know each other; went to the same schools/college; belong to the same clubs. Or if they don't, they will surely have a mutual acquaintance. Failing all that - isn't that what PA's are for?

Ramira
11-22-2014, 06:56 AM
It is not complicated, if you are seeking a new contact to have an introduction. If not an introduction, then calling to make introduction, from the industry directories. There is nothing underground. Of course these are contacts at the responsible level and not the same as anything with the retail customers.

slaphead
11-22-2014, 07:09 AM
For instance, let's say that Bank Of America wants to do a deal with Microsoft. How do they communicate with each other?

Well, in this specific instance there will be an account manager at Microsoft responsible for maintaining and increasing sales to BoA (who undoubtedly spend millions per year on Microsoft licences and support) and keeping them moderately happy. Part of their job is to meet as many senior people as possible within BoA.
I don't know if MS is already a BoA customer with an account manager, but if not there will undoubtedly be a BoA salesperson who has been diligently 'working' Microsoft as a prospect and trying to cut deals with them. That person will also have spent considerable time schmoozing the MS management structure and building up a contact list.
So there are at a minimum two people who are essentially employed to facilitate exactly these kinds of contacts and work out what kinds of deals can be done.

Even if both of these people have unexpectedly died of swine flu, been arrested for grave robbing or turned out to be sleeping on the job, then simply picking up the phone to the MS switchboard and asking for the finance/treasury/cash management or whatever will do fine. As soon as you have anyone with half a clue on the line then "I am billy-bob, executive vice president of pimp-bonds at Bank of America and I would like to discuss blahblah" or whatever will get you to the right person fairly quickly.

Loopus
11-22-2014, 08:36 AM
Even in the unlikely occurrence that the VP who wants to make this deal with the other company has no idea who he needs to talk to, the receptionist at the corporate office will probably have some idea. It might take several transfers upward along the bureaucratic chain, but assuming they want to listen to you, you'd eventually reach someone who could help.

LC Strawhouse
11-22-2014, 08:53 AM
IME, communications like this get vetted by a company lawyer before being sent, and they use their secret lawyer voodoo to provide a contact at company #2 (which could be their own lawyer).

obfusciatrist
11-22-2014, 09:04 AM
I work at a giant company (middling level). Recently I needed to discuss some possibilities with Microsoft.

So here's what I did:

I looked internally for people who worked with Microsoft on stuff and asked who their contacts were.
I asked my management if it was ok if I talked to Microsoft in general.
I then emailed the contact at Microsoft I learned of explaining what I needed.
They put me in contact wtih someone else that I could talk to.

We talked.

As soon as an actual proposal to do business comes up (I was more after "is X possible and what kind of timelines might it be" type information) our Sourcing group will get involved to do the technical work around contracts, negotiations, approvals, etc.

If it turned out we had no existing contact with Microsoft (or whoever I was looking at) I would have done research to try and find a contact there in the area of interest (people responsible to getting business at a company don't generally make themselves hard to find) and will cold call them or email them. But I have resorted to just emailing an info@ email address as a starting point.

One benefit of my company email address is that dollar signs tend to go off if they even suspect I might do business with them so responses are usually pretty easy to get.

The hard part, actually, is after you get the information you need or determine there won't be any business how to get them to STOP trying to talk to you.

friedo
11-22-2014, 09:11 AM
These people all know each other; went to the same schools/college; belong to the same clubs. Or if they don't, they will surely have a mutual acquaintance. Failing all that - isn't that what PA's are for?

Oh no, the secret's out. I'll have to bring this up at the next meeting of all business people in the world.

enipla
11-22-2014, 09:16 AM
Service Representatives.

I work for small County Government. About 500 employees. Not sure how many computers/work stations we have. For MS, I'm not sure if we have a SR. There are about 10 of us in Information Systems that have special online accounts for downloading software and license information. This also gives us a limited amount of one on one tech support each. It all depends on the service package you purchase.

For instance, we just spun up a new SQL server. I went online to my account and got the key code to authorize it. It showed me that I have 4 more available for that particular piece of software.

For the GIS software we do have a SR. He/she is regional. But we also have online accounts for software and licensing. We get tech support online or on the phone. Just have to enter our license number.

Dewey Finn
11-22-2014, 10:51 AM
Note too, that in this example, BoA might not deal directly with Microsoft. Instead, they might purchase software through a reseller. My employer, for example, buys computer software from ASAP Software, which is now a Dell subsidiary but wasn't when we started to order through them. We have an enterprise agreement with Microsoft for Office and Windows licenses but if someone wants a single license for Photoshop, we can send email to ASAP for a quote.

And for government employees, there are special arrangements called GSA schedules, that provide big discounts.

TokyoBayer
11-22-2014, 11:45 AM
I worked in business in Japan for 25 years, and had customers such as Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and Sharp.

It's not significantly different than what obfusciatrist says.

A lot of my work was "business development," which involved cold calls. When you have a recognizable name, you get through.

Most products are used in systems in conjunction with other companies' products. MS goes on Sony laptops, for example. You develop a network of connections with other companies providing non-competing products in the same industry.

I set up the branch office of a US company, starting from scratch. We exhibited at a tradeshow, got 500 names of people from small to large products. I had a survey to see if the person had purchased our product (through a distributor), used one, heard of us, or none of the above.

When I'd do cold calls to the people who had come to the booth, I'd start with people who had purchased a product first, if there weren't any, then look for someone who had used a product or had heard of our company and go from there. If they weren't the right person, they would usually provide us with the right contact.

For a very few people at elite positions, then having connections from a university may be beneficial, but for most people it doesn't matter.

Dewey Finn
11-22-2014, 11:51 AM
These people all know each other; went to the same schools/college; belong to the same clubs. Or if they don't, they will surely have a mutual acquaintance. Failing all that - isn't that what PA's are for?
Sometimes that's how it works. When Microsoft was still a tiny company, Bill Gates' mother Mary was on the board of United Way. She helped him get a meeting with IBM because John Akers (then CEO of IBM) was also on the board of United Way and she talked up her son's company.

johnpost
11-22-2014, 05:34 PM
if they use their Telex numbers then they avoid the voice mail maze.

TSBG
11-22-2014, 06:59 PM
I wonder if the OP didn't mean something bigger than MS using BofA for some corporate accounts--or BofA ordering software--I read Artemis' question as asking about something major like BofA acquiring, say, an entire subsidiary of MS that makes accounting software.

In that case, the answer could be anything from the head of MS having lunch with the head of BofA and bringing it up--such things are easily arranged, to a similar conversation between senior but lower executives, to communication between company lawyers, or BofA might retain an outside law firm or investment bank to broker the deal.

In any event it's pretty straightforward and only "underground" in the sense that neither party may want the discussions public.

Derleth
11-22-2014, 07:57 PM
Oh no, the secret's out. I'll have to bring this up at the next meeting of all business people in the world.Or just bring it up at your next baby roast with your JOOluminatti rabbi.

You know, right before you dance naked in the forest clearing to appease Baphomet and the Moon Goddess all you Abrahamic types secretly worship, unlike Good Jack Chick-Believing Christians.

dofe
11-22-2014, 08:16 PM
Mergers and acquisitions occur ver a golf game (http://www.westchestermagazine.com/914-INC/Q2-2014/The-Most-Important-Round-Of-Golf-In-Westchester-Business-History/), of course.

In reality, mergers between large corporations occur largely through informal channels before the M&A lawyers come into the picture. In the late 1990s, when John Browne of British Petroleum presented a plan to the board of directors arguing that a merger with another large petroleum company was necessary, his choice of Mobil as a partner (in what ultimately became a stillborn merger plan) partly came down to the fact he socialized with Lou Noto (Mobil CEO) and they occasionally talked about the oil business.

The merger between XTO and ExxonMobil was born when XTO founder Bob Simpson and director Jack Randall began talking about the possibility of a merger with a larger oil company while having meals. Randall also happened to be a partner at an investment bank that specialized in oil mergers, so he was able to broker a meeting between Simpson and Rex Tillerson (ExxonMobil CEO) at a private dining room at the Forth Worth Club in Irving, Texas. (It probably helped that Randall and Tillerson were both engineering students and in marching band at UT).

Exapno Mapcase
11-22-2014, 09:39 PM
And they probably can't call each others offices, this would be way too confusing ...

You really should have thought this sentence through, and then not posted.

People misapply Occam's Razor all the time. But here the simplest answer really is the right one. Anything else leads straight to conspiracy thinking territory.

ricksummon
11-22-2014, 10:20 PM
an angry costumer

Hello, Microsoft? This Bill Gates mask looks nothing like him! I demand a refund! :D

Senegoid
11-23-2014, 12:24 AM
When the really big players chat each other up, they always start with costumer service, the better to maintain their anonymity.

Isilder
11-23-2014, 05:09 AM
A big company I worked with, Telstra, required a CISCO standard VPN AND SFTP (a file transfer equivalent protocol over SSH/TSL ) for connecting to their data feed.

We had to set it up and test it on a dummy service before going live.

Telstra provides the standard, character by character, for the data ( order or billing, our request to them, or the result back to us . ).

Basically they just ensure the link is secure and who is in charge of the standards ...

Voyager
11-23-2014, 11:30 PM
Well, in this specific instance there will be an account manager at Microsoft responsible for maintaining and increasing sales to BoA (who undoubtedly spend millions per year on Microsoft licences and support) and keeping them moderately happy. Part of their job is to meet as many senior people as possible within BoA.


This. When I was at Bell Labs, during one of the periods of disruption between divestitures, we went to a vendor meeting. They had a better org char for us than any of us had seen.
Of course it depends on the deal. Buying something is one thing, I suspect a merger sets off all sorts of complicated SEC rules, so the lawyers get involved.

Tamex
11-24-2014, 12:50 AM
When the really big players chat each other up, they always start with costumer service, the better to maintain their anonymity.

I wish we had a "like"/+1 button sometimes. C'mon, SDMB, get with the times :).

I work for customer service for a medium-sized company. Large companies call to do business with us all the time--call the main number and press "1" for customer service. Simple as that. Sometimes these people are buyers, and sometimes they are engineers who are interested in using our stuff for prototypes, etc.

If there is large account potential there, they will be put in touch with an account manager. Sometimes, they have an assigned account manager/CSR and don't know it (someone else at the company, for example, who hasn't personally worked with us before). In that case, once I look up their account, I transfer it to the person who usually deals with that company, and I can give them that phone number so that they can skip the call queue.

md2000
11-24-2014, 01:17 AM
Yeah.

If it's sales - "we want to buy a thousand copies of MS Office 2015" - any decent sized US corporation already has a sales rep to look after that account (or, depending on the size, a team.) If the negotiations and volume get too large, say "we're buying half a million, we want a bigger discount" then the respective departments kick it upstairs for the higher-ups to discuss. The Microsoft guys have no problem sharing the VP of Marketing direct office number with BoA if necessary. Of course, like in the movies, unless the guys are drinking buddies (by the 4th month of negotiations) either the assistants set up the calls, or more likely, they email meeting requests back and forth to have a conference call where the entire team for both sides will sit around the phone. (Using the MS Outlook "Schedule a Meeting" feature, of course.)

If it's mergers or other high level talks, the same process applies - the assistant of A will call/email whatever contact they have in B and ask to be bumped up the totem pole. Beyond a certain level, the big shots are a matter of public record. There's always some way to connect... Common supplier, your law firm knows theirs, etc. Never underestimate cold-calling. At a certain point, it's hard to fake a legitimate call - you can't hijack corporate email that easily, even the mid-level people are Google-worthy, since many large corporations like to advertise notices in the business pages "John K Smith has been promoted to Mid-West Sales Manager for Acme Inc." (with picture). For hundred-million dollar deals, tasks forces from each side will no doubt visit the other's HQ and hold meetings.

It's pretty hard to fake this level of interaction with phone calls, gmail and phony letterhead.

(I recall a review of "9 To 5" when the movie came out. The reviewer said that obviously whoever wrote the script knew nothing about business. Even a lower level boss spends most of his time with his boss, in meetings, and on conference calls, planning projects and performance/budget analysis. One could not simply disappear for a month and be replaced by a bunch of memos and fake signatures.)

GreenElf
11-26-2014, 02:28 AM
It is not complicated, if you are seeking a new contact to have an introduction. If not an introduction, then calling to make introduction, from the industry directories. There is nothing underground.

Or they can walk to each other's board rooms via their vast network of underground tunnels. That's why most of them have Manhattan offices. ;)

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