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Help your customer to make the right choice

Posted by Philip Kreindler on 16-Nov-2015 09:00:00

As a vendor you and your team have put a huge amount of effort into the whole pitch process. In particular you have put everything into that final presentation. When you come out of the presentation do you sometimes wonder exactly they were looking for? Do you know how they will compare the alternative vendors? Are they as professional about buying as you are about selling?

Over the years we have learned that people buying our Sales Training and Sales Transformation solutions often find it hard to know how to make the right choice, especially when they have seen several good presentations. It becomes even harder when, as is often the case with our presentations, at least one vendor is challenging them and offering a very different solution.

So we offer them a tool to help them make the right choice.

The Evaluation Criteria Matrix

I don’t often talk about how we sell our services but in this instance I am going to describe a tool we offer our prospective clients and then talk a little about how you might adapt it. If you are sceptical about how prospects will react if you offer them help choosing the right vendor all I can say is that all our prospects to date have welcomed the offer and a great many go on to use the matrix.

It is quite a simple tool, there are 12 criteria and each person who has sat in on the presentation scores us on a scale of 1-5, then the scores are added up and the highest scoring presentation is the preferred solution. Each criterion can be weighted but that’s not essential.

We choose a 1-5 scale because most people readily understand it and we give a description of each score to make certain everyone is clear how they are scoring.

5 Excellent

4 Very Good

3 Good

2 Satisfactory

1 Inadequate

We then have 12 criteria that people in the presentation can score us on. I think many more and it would start to become confusing and many fewer and it would be hard to cover all the key issues. We put in tips to prompt the person doing the scoring about what they are looking for.

The 12 criteria

  1. How well do you feel that the vendor has understood our needs?

    Tip: Look for reference to our needs in their proposal and understanding of different stakeholder needs.

  1. How well does the vendor's solution fulfil our needs?

    Tip: Check how well the concepts match our needs, ask vendor to demonstrate a training module.

  1. To what extent will the solution help us generate and win new business?

    Tip: Check that the concepts are designed to build customer trust.

  1. How do you judge the vendor's flexibility to tailor their solution to our business?

    Tip: Ask them to show you a sample project where they have tailored the solution to an industry/company.

  1. How well has the vendor shown that they use the methodology themselves?

    Tip: Look for concrete examples in the vendor's own Sales Process to us.

  1. How do you rate the vendor's references in similar projects?

    Tip: Ask for concrete examples with results achieved and people to contact.

  1. How well do you think the concepts will be used by our sales people?

    Tip: Check that the concepts are easy to understand and apply in our business.

  1. How do you rate the vendor's technology to make it easy to use the concepts in daily business?

    Tip: Ask for a software demo.

  1. To what extent does the vendor's solution make how we sell a competitive advantage?

    Tip: Check that the concepts enhance Sales peoples' professionalism.

  1. How do you rate the vendor's capability to coach managers in implementing the concepts?

    Tip: Look at the implementation concept - the best sales method is the one which is used!

  1. How confident are you in the vendor's capability to achieve our project goals?

    Tip: Judge how comprehensive the solution is.

  1. How comfortable do you feel about working with the vendor's delivery team?

    Tip: Check whether they are people who will immediately gain the respect of the participants.

Looking through these criteria you will see that they are mostly very specific to Sales Training, though I would say 1, 2 and 12 are relevant when assessing any Sales presentation. There is nothing to stop you creating your own criteria that are relevant to what you sell.

Why would a prospect use a matrix supplied by a vendor?

It’s worth remembering that many of the people you work with have to go on to sell your solution internally, so a matrix like this shows they have been objective in selecting the best vendor. And if their preferred solution is more expensive they can show there is a good case for it and it has been evaluated alongside cheaper options. We don’t have price as a criterion on our matrix, this is usually considered as a separate exercise, but you can add it to yours if you think it is appropriate.

Why wouldn’t a prospect use your matrix?

You can’t just spring the idea of using your matrix on your prospect at the last minute. If you have built up trust by using a good Sales Process and demonstrate that this is a part of a process that will help them choose the right solution, they are more likely to adopt it. And your matrix must look objective, if it’s clearly biased towards your solution they won’t use it and you risk losing credibility.

Ask yourself

  • Do you think your prospects have an objective methodology for assessing your Sales presentation and comparing it to others?

  • Do you think prospects would be receptive to something that would help them?

  • Have you asked any of your existing customers how they assessed your successful presentation?

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