Real or Not?

Remember hot or not? It was a website with pictures of men & women and you gave each person a ranking from 1 to 10. The average of everyones votes were then shown on the website and you could then sort by highest or lowest ranking. It was a simple website with a simple ranking system.

If only prospective customers were this easy to rank and understand. Too often as vendors we’re left wondering whether a deal is real or whether the prospect is just kicking the tires. As vendors we frequently end up spending time on prospects with no money or project timeline while other prospects with money and immediate needs get ignored. Vendors are driven by revenue, we want to know how much you have to spend and when you intend to spend it. The larger the dollar amount and more immediate the purchase the more resources and attention you get. It may seem insensitive to have it laid out like that but that’s how the business world works.

Below I have a list of questions that vendors ask to determine whether a deal is real or not. I write these down as a reminder for myself when I’m working a deal. I also share these with you so that those of you who have never worked in sales or from a vendor know what questions will likely come from savvy sales person or SE. The more of these you can answer the more likely the deal is real, the more likely you’ll receive the appropriate amount of attention from a vendor you’re working with.

  • Do you have a project budget?
  • Do you have a date this project needs to be completed by?
  • What happens if you do nothing?
  • Who will be involved in the pilot?
  • What will you be evaluating (or what do you intend to test) during the pilot/testing?
  • After the pilot what will be the next steps to deploy the proposed solution?
  • Will the end users that will benefit from this solution be involved in the evaluation process?

2 thoughts on “Real or Not?

  1. Good read Dan…. I would offer one thing to add. Never suggest a POC unless the deployment scenario warrants it. Your question seem to offer it up as a default option.

    It not only is a waste of effort, but it significantly drags out the sales process. Example… Access Gateway on Netscaler for ICAPROXY . It’s been done soooo many times but yet some still want a poc.

    1. I didn’t mean to imply it should always be done. Believe me I wish more people would just use cloud PoC’s or demo environments rather than need to actually see the install.

      When I do a PoC / pilot I ask for significant investment from the customer (deal size, time commitment, number of users involved, meetings with executive leadership). This weeds out some of the tire-kickers from those with a real project.

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