How to soften the impact of the hard sell
Hup Agency looks at ways to stay focused when faced with the aggressive sales tactics of some marketing technology vendors
Finding the right marketing technology and investing in new solutions is a journey filled with challenges – in particular when trying to navigate around the aggressive sales tactics of some vendors.
These tips may help.
– Be clear on requirements
Nobody knows your business the way that you do. Your unique requirements are not always going to be fully recognised by a generic software solution, so you should never gamble on finding technology that slots perfectly into place in your organisation.
Your top-level objectives should sit at the heart of every purchasing decision, big or small. Decisions in every part of your organisation need to be aligned with what you want to achieve as a business. However, we all run the risk of being steamrollered by insistent solution vendors who try their hardest to influence that decision. While they may offer a wide range of fantastic functionality, it is important to understand whether or not it truly supports your business objectives.
– Identify the options
When we find ourselves at the receiving end of a sales pitch, the temptation is to compare the solution pitch against another known solution – trying to review them on a like-for-like basis. However, the true comparison also needs to encompass a review of what can be done outside of the scope the vendor gives. What is important to remember, is that there will always be other options.
Consider questions such as:
- What can we do with our existing systems?
- Are there other solutions that can help us reach the same – or better – outcomes?
- Can we work backwards from our business objectives and develop a custom solution?
These can be difficult and time-consuming questions to answer. You may consider using a third party, an independent advisor, to help decipher the alternatives.
– Be prepared for trade-offs
The way your business handles certain scenarios may not be the way most organisations of your size operate. Choosing a “one-size-fits-most” solution may force your business to rearrange internal processes or even shift role responsibilities. It’s important to know what you want to have in place, but also what you don’t want. Find the areas where you can consider trading one functionality for another, and areas where your existing processes are set in stone.
– Look for the negotiation gaps
Vendors will often drive a hard bargain based on time-limited offers, depending on where they are in their trading cycle and what their performance levels are. This can also be a difficult scenario to navigate. What is important to remember is that however tempting a particular concession may seem, you should always maintain a critical evaluation of the impact the purchase will have on your organisation.
Establish that the solution is the one best suited to your business. Once you know this, you can negotiate on your own terms. If you have the benefit of time, use this to your advantage by waiting for the vendor to present their best offer. If you need to make a decision relatively quickly, be clear on what your budget is and ensure that the vendor knows they are on your final shortlist. If you are struggling with limited budgets and not making enough progress in reducing the vendor’s price, you may need to be prepared to drop some functionality and attempt to secure additional funding once the solution has been proven internally.