The Purpose of Evaluation Criteria
Buyers of B2B solutions always pass through a phase in their purchase cycle where they evaluate the options. Typically these options fall into three basic categories:
- Do nothing
- Solve the problem yourself
- Engage a 3rd party to solve it for/with you
In order to choose between these options, buyers develop a set of evaluation criteria, things like cost, speed of delivery, quality, certain functionality, and so on. Here are two articles that make this point in greater detail: Sales Process flowchart and Closing More Sales. Sometimes these criteria are formal and sometimes informal, but they always exist.
Often, especially in formal procurements by tender or RFP, these evaluation criteria can be expressed in a matrix (like the one shown below) that only a statistician or financial analyst could love.
Despite these sterile sorts of assessment approaches, the savvy sales executive knows that people like buying from people they like. Often that is interpreted as the sales team only, but in complex solutions which require some combination of services, product, software, and hardware the entire service portfolio can be a key selling point.
Make People the Key evaluation Criteria
So if you are selling for one of these organizations, ask yourself, “how can I change my prospect’s evaluation criteria so that they value people over product?” Some ideas are surprisingly simple:
- Provide the prospect resumes of your project managers and encourage them to interview each one and ‘choose’ the one they prefer. Yes, this approach puts the implementation staff on notice that they need to abide by the prospect’s wishes if they win the deal, but the upside is you win the deal
- Introduce the services staff (professional services or customer services or operations) in person during the sales cycle to help explain what they do and how and why. This helps personalize the sales campaign and demonstrate the broad competencies and skills the vendor brings to bear
- Share LinkedIn and, possibly, Facebook profiles of key services staff as a means of ‘getting to know them’ better