Are you soon to be in the market for enterprise technology? If you are, and if you are looking to work with the top tech companies, here are some key mistakes to avoid if you want to ensure your favourite vendors bid for your business and don't qualify out of your process!
Give them plenty of warning
If you have a fantastic project and money to spend, you might think that it will be simple to get the time and attention from your preferred vendors - but this isn't always the case. Like any business, they have quiet times and they have crazy busy times. If you make contact early and give them plenty of notice, you should be ok - just don't drop an RFP on their table at year-end and expect it to be completed that week!
Be open and transparent
Just like you can spot a salesperson when they are not telling the full story - they can spot a buyer who isn't being completely honest. It's always best (on both sides) to play with a straight bat. If you are not going to buy for 2 years - that's ok, they will appreciate you making that clear. If you haven't got the funding yet, that's fine and they can maybe help you justify the expenditure.
Don't ask them to contract on your paper
This comes up more often than you might think. Asking to contract on your paperwork (unless you have a very accommodating vendor or a VERY big amount of money to spend) is to be avoided. It will almost certainly end the vendor's involvement.
Set expectations on both sides
Make sure to set expectations at the very beginning of the engagement. What do you expect of the sales team and what should they expect of you? When expectations are not clear, it can lead to upset and disagreement. More importantly, when expectations are set - make sure that they are followed through. One that almost always causes frustration is expectations about timescales and decision gates. If they are made clear (e.g. in an RFP) it's important to keep to them, just as it is important for the vendor to submit their responses by a specific date.
Respect their time and resources
In almost all cases, the vendor will not be charging you for any of their resources while they are bidding for your work. This is a 'pre-sales investment' and the extended sales team's time and expenses will be funded entirely by the vendor themselves. It is important to keep this in mind as they will assess the likely investment needed to win your project versus the size of the spend they might reasonably expect from you. With this in mind, avoid issuing RFI and RFP documents with thousands of questions - they can take a team of 5 to 10 people to respond to - along with the expenses to get to you for the presentations and meetings. Also, when they work on your project, they are committing those team members to your bid, and likely taking resources away from others.
No sales process or purchasing process is ever perfect and issues will always occur over the course of the engagement. Avoiding these 5 mistakes will help to ensure that your preferred vendor stays the course and is still an option when you come to your final decision.
If you are soon to be in the market, check out our whitepaper that talks about how best to create your 'longlist' of potential vendors and how to go out and make contact with them.