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 Solution Selling

Winning Sales Strategies | Staging The Buy Process

A key solution selling best practice religiously exercised by top technology sales professionals, and missed by the remaining market majority, is staging the buyers’ buy criteria.

Contrary to popular opinion, buyer evidence reveals that technology purchasers more often than not do not desire, have the experience, possess the skills or have the time to pursue a methodical technology evaluation process which fairly and systemically evaluates the most relevant market alternatives. Whether shopping for customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions, enterprise resource planning (ERP) back office systems, routine hardware or even professional services, technology buyers seldom consider all the options, weigh them carefully and reach a deliberate choice.

Every experienced sales person has responded to countless request for proposals (RFPs) only to recognize those RFPs where the requested items are not prioritized and the responses will have little to no bearing on the final software selection decision. The all too common template RFPs which contain generic and completely irrelevant requests are the epidomy of a broken process. Technology buyers do not desire to waste time, however, key technology purchases must be justified and the RFP is often the backdrop for claimed due diligence. Properly executed RFPs with meaningful, precise and weighted requests that are used to develop vendor short lists and base the final purchase decision are an unquestionable best practice, however, are also the exception and not the rule among the vast majority of technology purchases.

Instead of the presumed conventional procurement rational, most technology buyers look for information sources that train them how to jump start or accelerate the decision making process. Armed with this real world information, the most successful solution selling account executives and sales professionals apply a sales strategy of engaging with sales prospects early, determining whether the buy criteria is emotionally or logically founded, and aiding the buyers procurement process with information that facilitates both the buyer and the seller.

These top producers move quickly to discover the prospects true buying behaviors and then offer information and resources which blend content useful to the buyer with content supporting the sales persons’ solution. In fact, when done in a way that is both not manipulative and constructive for the buyer, the sales person delivers a roadmap which can be steered to a predefined destination.

To be perceived as credible by the buyer, information presented by the seller must be based on clearly evident principles or third party support. The best principles to be shared by the sales professional should be based on industry recognized experience and backed with strong anecdotal evidence. The best third party support generally includes credible advisors, customer or peer references and research presented in advisories, reports or relevant websites. Social networks and respected blogs are providing the newest sources of peer research collected by technology buyers.

By proactively positioning the software, hardware or technology selection criteria and process early, in a manner that links or supports the buyers’ decision making process with the sellers’ value proposition, and with the effect of maximizing the buyers time and efficiency while reducing perceived risk, the sales professional is effectively managing the customer buy criteria instead of responding to (often times irrelevant) buyer requests. Top sales professionals read each buyer carefully and then shape or influence the rules of the competitive environment. Instead of racing to meet buyer requests, effective selling becomes a competition over defining the rules of the game.

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