Buying on the Quarter: How to Get Your Best Deal From Any Vendor
"Serious buyers will ask a lot of questions on a number of topics. They include service, implementation, integration, support, product roadmap, financial information on the vendor, timelines for contract negotiations and other elements that are necessary to make a move. Aside from asking a lot of questions, serious buyers tend to involve more people from their organizations to gain exposure to the platforms. As you work to understand how you may be getting scored by your vendor;"
With only a few weeks remaining in the quarter, this may be a great time to assess where you are in the buyers cycle with your potential new vendors. Why? Because if your potential vendor has you on the sales pipeline as a likely client, making a deal is in your favor.
Sales teams use all types of scoring methods to predict the likelihood of winning a client. This is done by assessing the stage of the sales engagement by defining finite activities and associating them with a score and a close date.
As a buyer, understanding where you are in the sales cycle can be of great benefit when it comes to negotiating a deal: most sales folks are under some degree of revenue pressure on a quarterly basis.
Qualifying a prospect and moving them through the pipeline is part science and part art. Not all opportunities are equal. For example; in the ESP space every deal includes a product demo. Up until the actual demo most prospects are not qualified well enough to achieve serious buyer status. Many sales folks will use the demo as a point of review to understand the viability of the deal.
In other words; if you do a demo with a sales team and continue to discuss options with them across a variety of topics your qualification as a viable prospect would increase significantly. Conversely, you may have completed a product demo and then been sporadic and or non responsive or not directed in your questions. The sales team will spend a lot of time reviewing the seriousness of your buying process to help decide whether or not the deal will actually happen.
Serious buyers will ask a lot of questions on a number of topics. They include service, implementation, integration, support, product roadmap, financial information on the vendor, timelines for contract negotiations and other elements that are necessary to make a move. Aside from asking a lot of questions, serious buyers tend to involve more people from their organizations to gain exposure to the platforms. As you work to understand how you may be getting scored by your vendor; consider the following:
- Did you ask for an additional demo or multiple demo’s
- What other business titles did you include in your process? (Did you invite the VP, SVP, Manager of IT…etc?)
- Have your provided deeper use cases to help understand how the tool can handle your specific needs?
- Did you have a meaningful discussion about integration?
- Did you ask about pricing?
- Have you let your guard down and leveled with the sales team about actual send volumes and program needs?
- Have you been exposed to the vendors’ client services organization?
- Have you been introduced to the team that will be assigned to you?
- Have you exchanged contract language?
While these may seem like very common and basic elements of making a buying decision; for a sales person, seeing these activities occur helps them mark the progress of the deal. Each of those bullet points above represents a check mark for the sales person. Imagine being in a pipeline meeting with your sales VP defending a prospect and saying yes to those 6 bullet points. You’d like your chances too.
Now there’s about a month left before the quarter ends. You’re the buyer and you’re aware of these elements too. You could be sitting on your reps pipeline with an 80% likelihood that you’re going to become a customer. Time and money may be on your side. You have a sales team that has been tracking your progress as a prospect and they have you pegged as a strong candidate for close. They want to get the deal done and may be more willing to deal.
Negotiating a deal with an ESP doesn’t have to center entirely around the money you’ll spend on deployment. Keep in mind that you really do want your vendors to make money; that way they can continue to invest in the product development you’re paying them for. So what extras would you consider important that could be discussed as the quarter approaches a close?
- Faster implementation timeline
- Guaranteed account management team assignments.
- Ensuring that the team you met during the sales cycle is your team
- Rights to screen any new account team members
- Additional volume to offset any overages for a period of time
- Payment terms (Net 30, Net 60, and Net 10 2% discount?)
- Additional platform components turned on or accessible
- A free Quarterly Business Report?
- Joint webinar
- A seat on a Client Advisory Board
- An agreement to beta test new releases first
- Extended terms without a rate increase
This list can be endless, but understanding where you are in the cycle can be a great advantage in putting together a deal that benefits your company for the length of your contract. It’s important that as a buyer you understand the sales process and pay attention to the calendar. These opportunities may only come once a quarter and under the right circumstance.
Lastly, clearly your sales team knows this too. Work with them to reach mutually beneficial agreements and kickoff the relationship on the right foot.