Home > The Monday Musings Column > how easy is it to buy from you 2 – sell me the deal

how easy is it to buy from you 2 – sell me the deal

Continuing my theme of last week, let’s look at the stages of a typical B2B purchasing exercise.

The common problem that you encounter in these situations is that the company is trying so hard to sell to you that they frequently miss the point completely. They are so busy telling you how wonderful they are that they make it hard for you to buy from them, and the further you get into the process the worse they get.

At the pre-qualification stage you are seeking information, so case studies and some background on the supplier in terms of their customer base is needed, but you are looking for objective evidence of capability and capacity, not subjective advertising puff. All too often what you’re given is more towards the latter than the former.

When it comes down to the tender you have already narrowed down your possible to the ones that you have identified as capable of doing the job, but you can reckon on getting reams of sales pitch, including repeating most of what you’ve already had, to wade through as you try to find the convincing arguments that this is the bid that you should really be accepting. Why they do this is a mystery, but you can almost guarantee that you’re going to get it. The black humour in this is that, along with this blatant waste of paper, there will almost certainly be something there explaining their green credentials. Now and again you get someone who avoids the sales pitch and just sells you the solution to your problem, but this just isn’t that common.

Next up will be conducting supplier visits, and these will include both the supplier’s premises and one or more of their current customers. The purpose of these visits is to validate the supplier’s ability to service my client. I’m looking for demonstrable evidence that they can do what they say they can, that they are already doing it for someone else and how well it is being done. Now the clever supplier will just let you get on and see whatever you want to, warts and all, and will be prepared to have a sensible discussion on the good and the bad. Mostly though you get the sanitised tour, and that overlooks one of the key things that people want to buy into; honesty.

Then we get to the short listed suppliers presenting. You have, say, forty five minutes to convince you that they should be the chosen one; half an hour to present and fifteen minutes of questions maybe? Now thirty minutes is not long, so what should happen is to focus in on how they will do for you what you have asked for in the tender. Start with a quick intro to the problem, the meat of the session on how they will solve that problem, and a quick sum up of the key points. But all too often the first half of the presentation is made up prom the standard sales slide set and then they rush faster and faster through the rest with all of the slides on your requirements vanishing in a blur.

You are being scored at all of these stages. If you want the deal, then focus on what is going to get points on the board and put all of your efforts there.

Make it easy to buy from you: We put you on the list because we are convinced that you could do the job. What we need from there on is convincing why we should engage you and not the others.

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