For many technology and procurement professionals vendor meetings can be confusing, drawn out and downright frustrating. Here are three tips that will immediately help your team become better negotiators:
1. Let them speak first. Often times, we have a tendency to get really excited and want to speak first when we’re on the first call with vendors and companies offering solutions to our problems. This is because we are eager to tell the vendor what our problems are and how we’re looking to solve them. While it’s fine to share the problems you’re looking to solve with the vendor, don’t tell them how you want to solve your problems. Let them do that for you- in fact, that’s their job! A good salesperson who is capable of solving your problems will be able to pinpoint the issues pretty quickly. By speaking first, and sharing your situation with the vendor, you are taking control of the conversation and ensuring it starts off with you and your company’s problems at the forefront.
2. Don’t talk about the product, talk about the problems you’re looking to solve. When talking to a vendor, it’s easy to want to narrow the conversation down to how their products relate to your problems (in fact, that’s what they want you to do). In order to ensure you’re getting the best solution to your problem (there are often times many great software solutions to one company’s problems), you need to make sure you’re starting and ending with your the problems you’re facing when talking to the vendor. Make the vendor tell you how they’re solving your problems. Don’t let them dictate and make up issues for you. Many sales people, especially more junior but smooth sales people, can easily make you believe you have a problem that you actually don’t have. Be aware of this.
3. Get as much information as possible. Knowledge is power. Coming to the negotiation table with vendors and not knowing enough about their products, what they do, who their competitors are (i.e. your other options), and at their ASP (average selling price) is can severely hurt you. Without proper information, you won’t be able to adequately advocate for yourself and ask for the right things (like adding this feature or service into the bundle for free). Highlight pricing being a big blind spot for procurement professionals – it’s a blind spot because it’s hard to find, but doing your research is worthwhile. Try calling up friends in the industry who have used the technology or using tools like Fairmarkit.