At ISM Dubai, a course we often run in-house and cover during our selling skills course, is looking at a sale or negotiation from the buying perspective. This holistic approach needs to be understood by sales people to help drive their own success. In this three part blog Bill Levell will cover buyer views comprehensively.
From the buyer’s perspective engaging with a potential supplier calls for detailed information gathering through whatever means are appropriate.
There are several key areas to explore in depth through desk research, asking questions and holding discussions to assess suppliers and their proposals in all relevant areas.
Here are some examples of these areas, not all are always essential, and there will be others which I have not listed which are industry/technology specific.
Does the supplier’s staff have the skills and experience, including specialised technical knowledge that they will need to meet the requirement?
- Experience and track record
Past experience should be examined in sufficient detail to give confidence that the supplier has the right ability. This may include visits to customers of the supplier or to the supplier’s premises. The principal objective is to assess how much of the supplier’s experience is relevant to the buyer’s requirements and how they can back up their responses with evidence that they have provided similar solutions before. Questions like:
- Has the supplier fulfilled requirements of a similar type, scale and/or complexity before? If they have, was their performance satisfactory?
- What problems arose, and how will they be avoided on this contract?
- How well does the supplier’s experience and track record back up their proposal?
- What evidence is there of the supplier adding value by adopting proactive approaches, making improvements, building strong working relationships and so on?
- Can the supplier demonstrate a spirit of co-operation in their past or present customer relationships?
- What is the supplier’s track record on team-working, relationship management and/or partnering? What evidence can be sought supporting their proposals on working together?
It is important to validate the totality of the declared resource skills against overall supplier resources.
If the supplier has high reliance on one major customer, this may present a risk to the project. This does not necessarily mean that the supplier must be rejected out of hand, but the risk should be analysed, considered and managed like other project risks. Questions like:
- Does the supplier have adequate capacity and resource for the requirement, both now and in the future?
- How many experienced staff does the supplier have working in relevant areas?
- What other contracts does the supplier currently have running that could affect capacity?
- What other contracts is the supplier bidding for? If they won them, would this affect capacity available for this requirement?
- Does the supplier give sufficient consideration to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to adapt to changing business needs?
- Can the supplier demonstrate that it has the necessary resource forecasting experience and perhaps models for capacity planning purposes?
- Is there evidence that SLA requirements are used to define availability plans and targets?
- Does the supplier monitor actual performance against availability targets?
- Does the supplier have adequate methods and procedures for monitoring service capacity and tuning systems performance?
The next two parts to this comprehensive look at the Buyer’s perspective will be published in the next fortnight and if you have any thoughts on what else should be included please let us know.