The value of developing partnerships with the appropriate vendors is recognized by successful organizations. Many companies make the error of selecting a vendor only on the basis of price, but this can eventually lead to more costly issues. A company should select a vendor that complements its operations and has comparable objectives. Companies might prevent potentially expensive issues later on by choosing vendors carefully up front.
When choosing a vendor, it’s important to look past any obvious sales or marketing ploys and consider what the vendor actually has to offer customers. Even though a vendor might supply the products or services a business requires, it’s possible that the level of customer care is inadequate, which will ultimately harm the vendor-business relationship. An organization may help guarantee that the vendor they select is able to meet or exceed their expectations in a number of ways.
Finding Sound Technological Solutions
When businesses hire vendors, they anticipate seeing a positive return on their investment; nevertheless, the improper vendor may potentially result in a loss for the company. As was discussed in the prior workshop, it is crucial to thoroughly screen applicants before selecting a vendor in order to ascertain which ones best suit the particular requirements of the organization. This procedure could entail assessing vendor performance, checking return times, giving feedback for quality assurance, and keeping in touch effectively to preserve partnerships.
Companies are able to more clearly define their present and future organizational requirements with the help of vendor selection consulting services. The research and vendor selection phases then employ these criteria. The interviewing procedure and the actual contract discussions can both be facilitated by a vendor selection consultant.
An important step in choosing a provider is the negotiation process. The final determination of the pricing terms will depend on how successfully a corporation can bargain with a provider. It’s critical for a company to create a successful contract negotiating strategy in order to reduce costs.
The company’s top priorities and the goals it has for acquiring the vendor’s products or services should be taken into account when developing a bargaining strategy. The organization’s bottom line should be stated in the strategy, and if the vendor is unable to agree, the firm should be prepared to walk away from the agreement.
Determining which fit is best for organizations
Depending on the size and type of the business, the selection procedure for vendors may vary. So that vendors can effectively modify their offerings, organizations must specify their requirements in a contract. A Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quotation (RFQ) is written and delivered to the contenders once all requirements have been specified.
No matter what kind of request is made, the document must include specific details to guarantee that vendors can fulfill the needs of the company. The submission information, company background and overview, executive summary, assumptions, restrictions, selection criteria, and terms and conditions are typical elements of an RFP or RFQ.
Due Diligence on Vendor Credentials
Prior to selecting a vendor, every business should perform due diligence. Organizations should first gather fundamental company data to ascertain the company’s legitimacy and state-issued license. This data may contain specifics about the location, a description of the company structure, references from reliable sources, the articles of incorporation, and business licenses.
To make sure the chosen vendor is not dealing with any major legal or financial issues that could force them to close in the near future, financial data should also be gathered. This could involve balance sheets, tax records, and other related information. Vendors might further need to vouch for their lack of operational, cyber, or reputational risks. Once this data has been gathered, it needs to be checked for accuracy and veracity. A decision will then be made using this information.
The Vendor Selection Process
Almost every company collaborates with one or more vendors. Retailers buy products from manufacturers that transform raw resources into completed things. Retailers are consumers’ vendors if they sell finished goods. It is crucial to properly vet your suppliers to choose the ones who are finest for your company because vendors differ widely in terms of reputation, pay rates, and distinctive services. Numerous steps are necessary in the vendor selection process, all of which are intended to aid organizations in making wise and strategic vendor decisions.
Importance of Comparing Vendors
Vendors might offer comparable services, but they might not have the dependability, quality, or price that you are seeking for. Therefore, while choosing a vendor to deal with, it is crucial to evaluate each of these aspects. A vendor’s shortcomings may reflect poorly on your company if they are widespread. For instance, if you run a restaurant and a supplier brings you produce that is past its best, your establishment can get a negative rap for the caliber of its fare.
In the IT sector, picking a bad vendor can result in a poor (software) product, which can result in a poor experience for your company, your partners, and your clients. This is why it is crucial to engage with a dependable IT management consultant who can aid in finding and choosing a top-notch supplier to suit your company’s requirements.
Selection and management of vendors
Many companies decide to cooperate with seasoned IT management consultants to scrutinize the vendor selection procedure. A consultant can guide you through all of the associated procedures, including vendor selection and administration.
Executive advisors and clients collaborate to determine their present and future company needs before starting the vendor selection process. It’s critical to take both a technical and functional perspective when thinking about your future requirements. An executive adviser may assist you in creating a business requirements document once you have a clear grasp of where you are right now and where you want to go. This article serves as a guide for carefully vetting and choosing vendors who might fit your needs.
You can start the crucial process of vetting and selecting suitable vendors once your company has established your vendor selection criteria and has a Business Requirements Document in place. You must conduct research to identify suitable local service providers who provide the services you require at terms and costs you can afford. Once you’ve selected a few candidates, you send a Request for Information (RFI) to every vendor to learn more about their operating procedures and contract terms.
You can evaluate the data against the vendor selection criteria you developed earlier in the procedure once you have access to information about each provider. You can reduce the number of candidates on your list by determining whether a vendor satisfies these requirements. Your executive adviser will help you submit an RFP if you find a vendor that satisfies your requirements (RFP). An RFP is a comprehensive list of a vendor’s services that can be used to determine what the vendor provides and weigh the benefits and drawbacks.
An executive adviser will oversee the following interactions, such as scheduling meetings or on-site demos between businesses and suppliers, once you have decided which vendors you would like to engage with. Businesses can also schedule a demo to understand what features and functions are available and how they are provided. In order for all parties to address any issues or concerns early in the process, a firm may also demand product demonstrations with important stakeholders. An executive adviser can also help you conclude any contracts and inform you of any dangers or liabilities your company may encounter by doing business with a particular vendor.
The process of choosing a vendor is just the beginning of professional IT management consultancy services. Businesses may also receive assistance from executive advisers with vendor management. This can entail evaluating the qualifications, caliber, and turnaround times of specific vendors. In order to maintain quality, an executive adviser can also continuously compare vendor performance to your standards and offer important input. Additionally, activities like keeping in touch with vendors and making sure that payments are received on time can be accomplished.
The process of choosing a vendor to respond to a request for proposals (RFP) is one of the trickiest, but arguably most crucial, steps in a successful RFP. After all, the entire point of filing an RFP is to select the best supplier. Not to mention that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into the project by the time you’re prepared to review proposals. And your decision will affect the project’s future success. There is therefore a lot of pressure to do it correctly.
We will examine the vendor selection procedure in this workshop. I’ll provide a walkthrough of the procedures for choosing a vendor, suggestions for formulating the criteria and scorecard, and best practices. You will be well-equipped with this knowledge to confidently choose the ideal spouse.
Steps in selecting a vendor
One of the last stages in strategic sourcing is the vendor selection procedure. Even if it takes time, choosing the best source is worthwhile. According to the The Balance Small Business blog,
In order to make a decision that is in the best interest of the firm, the major goal of the proposal review and vendor selection phase is to reduce political posturing and human emotion.
You need to lessen the chance that bias or misunderstanding will cause the results of your supplier selection process to be skewed. These vendor selection procedures will aid in developing a more transparent, data-driven strategy.
1. Gather your guiding documents
It will help to clarify the evaluation process to review some basic project documentation before you develop your scorecard or give instructions for stakeholder scoring. In an ideal world, a large portion of the preparatory work for vendor selection was completed early in the RFP procedure. assemble paperwork pertaining to the RFP’s initial objectives and motives.
You should review the data from the requirements discovery process when evaluating the submitted proposals. Keep everyone informed about the objectives, scope, and budget, particularly when dealing with numerous scorers.
The issue to be solved, the objectives, and the details of the proposed project should be defined in the requirements discovery paperwork. The paper should include the needs and priorities of each stakeholder. By keeping the review team’s attention on needs rather than wants, having this information on hand will serve to remind them of the project’s original scope.
Results of the RFI and vendor profiles
Prior to releasing the RFP, whether you sent out a request for information (RFI) or used vendor profiles to establish a shortlist, you’ll want to have the responses on hand for reference. Comparing the RFI findings to the official proposals you were given can be instructive. If you have two vendors with extremely similar scores and you require a tie breaker, the RFI or vendor profile may also offer more context or information.
Selection criteria for vendors
Ideally, your vendor selection criteria were specified in the RFP. If so, your scorecard preparation is already halfway complete. As you begin to create your vendor selection scorecard, adhere as closely as you can to the set criteria. Remember that the portions you specify as being the most crucial are usually given more time by vendors or suppliers to prepare meaningful responses. Therefore, they ought to be weighted appropriately.
2. Create your proposal evaluation team
It’s a good idea to seek other opinion when choosing the best supplier or vendor for a procurement project. The executives and stakeholders who will be most impacted by the project’s results can offer a valuable perspective. For instance, they can spot potential obstacles, spot gaps in a solution’s capabilities, and provide more context for intricate RFP submissions.
The selection process can be made more transparent by adding other reviewers to the process. This strategy can hasten adoption, develop solution champions, and encourage opposition to change.
Specify how each participant will be involved from the start when choosing the evaluation participants. Will they be in charge of judging, offering advice, or just keeping an eye on things? We strongly advise against skipping this stage and assuming that everyone is aware of the requirements. Because the roles and duties weren’t clearly defined, it’s often unclear who would make the final choice when the supplier selection process stalls. A RACI matrix might be useful for planning the scoring team and keeping everyone on schedule.
3. Build your vendor selection scorecard
Create a vendor selection scorecard based on your vendor selection criteria to make scoring simple for your evaluation team. Set the weights for each section after you’ve made the scorecard that represents the RFP questions. We strongly advise weighted scoring as a method for arranging the proposal’s elements according to importance to your company.
To maintain vendor score, the majority of procurement teams employ intricate Excel spreadsheets. To manually handle weighted scoring, utilize a vendor selection scorecard template. The method is effective but has certain limitations. Version control problems frequently arise with vendor selection scoresheets maintained in Excel, making it challenging to compile the results.
On the other hand, the vendor selection scorecard can be automated using RFP software. The software enables you to appoint stakeholder scorers, centralize scoring, and review the outcomes in useful data visualizations.
However, if you have RFP software, you’ll be able to do this stage more cooperatively and you could even be able to automate part of the functionality. Much weighted scoring is performed using complex formulas on an Excel spreadsheet. RFP software excels in this area. RFP software makes it simple to get an accurate comparison of your options.
4. Score the proposals
Before you start scoring, think about the best strategy to incorporate everyone who is required. Are you going to ask stakeholders to rate the full plan or only the parts that matter to them? Or, would departmental teams made up of your stakeholders be scoring jointly?
In addition, will judges know whose company submitted the proposal or would they score anonymously? To prevent any accidental personal prejudice on the part of the scorers, we propose blind scoring whenever possible.
Provide explicit instructions on how to grade your ideas no matter what method or tool you choose. This becomes even more crucial when there are more than two scorers. Everyone should be aware of what a good grade is. To assist you construct your score guide, use your requirements discovery.
5. Make your final supplier selection
You succeeded in completing the procedure. If everything goes according to plan, you should have a clear winner. The procedure isn’t always clear-cut, though. The top two or three vendors may need to be moved up to a list of finalists for more scrutiny or explanation.
Do not forget to notify suppliers on your progress and follow up with them. Inform the vendors that were passed over if you are entering a finalist process. Don’t be afraid to share your decision-related insights if it’s possible to do so.
The supplier selection process’s dos and don’ts
Prior to developing your RFP:
• DO: Check to see if any service or technological problems can be fixed before deciding to choose a new provider.
Most of the time, fixing present problems is cheaper and simpler than starting over with a different provider.
• DO: Clearly state the parameters of your selection.
This will enable you to rapidly identify your solution priorities and eliminate vendors who are unable to satisfy your requirements. We advise holding a collaborative meeting with your HR, IT, and executives to get the requirements and goals of all stakeholders out in the open.
• DO: Prior to beginning the vendor selection process, establish a budget.
Prior to beginning the procedure, it’s crucial to have the C-suite approve the budget as well as the entire project. Vendor pricing varies widely, so you don’t want to go too far along and then discover the vendor is significantly more expensive than you anticipated.
• DO: Choose a project lead or manager.
This is crucial for determining responsibilities or if/when problems develop. The success of a project depends on forming a steering group and stakeholders early on.
• DO: Identify the most significant criteria for making decisions.
Your purchasing decision will eventually be influenced by your crucial decision criteria, which could include any of the following: pricing structure, particular functionality or features (automation, integration, reporting tools), client experience, vendor reputation, etc.
• DO: Spend some time looking into the vendors.
The market is flooded with “HR technology” suppliers. Examine each vendor’s functionality and service options in detail. Additionally, have a peek at what clients have to say about their products or services.
When you draft and distribute your RFP:
• DO: Specify every aspect of your request for proposals.
You can obtain the finest price quotes and service options by using an RFP that includes context, background information, and specific demands. Vendors can assess whether it’s a suitable fit and offer precise pricing suggestions when they are aware of exactly what you are looking for and how your business operates.
• DO: Ensure that your RFP contains the appropriate questions.
Create inquiries that aid in determining whether a provider satisfies your requirements and those important decision-making elements we previously mentioned.
• DO: Continue to communicate with your project team and important stakeholders.
Maintain constant connection with everyone who is even remotely connected to the project. Keep in mind to communicate with your IT personnel as well. The majority of executives dislike surprises and prefer to be fully aware of the project’s status.
• DO: Before deciding to choose a new vendor, see whether you can resolve any service or technological difficulties with an existing one.
Most of the time, fixing present problems is cheaper and simpler than starting over with a different provider.
• DO: Request service level agreements and the vendor’s best and final pricing during contract negotiations.
It doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
When choosing a vendor, consider the following:
• DO: Request service level agreements and the vendor’s best and final pricing during contract negotiations.
• DON’T: Sign the agreement without first reading it.
Most contracts last for three years, however some only last for a single year. That is a significant amount of time and money. Ask your legal team to review the contract and, if necessary, to engage in discussions.
Vendors anticipate some opposition from you because they respect your right to redline. In order to ensure that you are reading vendor contracts with your best interests in mind, keep in mind that they are typically drafted in their benefit.
• DON’T: Make a choice based solely on cost.
Not the cost of the technology, but poor service is what most employers find most frustrating. Other important factors to think about before making a decision are functionality and service.
• DON’T: Panic!
Take a deep breath. You can do it!
Chapter 1: Define Business Requirements
Every investment in new software and technology infrastructure should take business needs into account. If there isn’t a critical business need, you don’t start a new project, buy new enterprise software, or create new processes.
But identifying the precise nature of that need might be difficult in and of itself.
It is possible for companies to find themselves in a scenario where there is a fundamental mismatch between what they have planned for and what they actually need, even after investing time, money, and energy into trying to identify an issue that needs to be fixed.
You can avoid this mismatch by carefully analyzing your business requirements.
It can make the procurement process run more smoothly and produce results that can be measured if you take the time to carefully identify, analyze, and document your fundamental business requirements.
Throughout this course manual, we’ll look at:
• The building blocks of a successful business requirements analysis
• A few typical traps and errors that can jeopardize the process.
What does a business requirements analysis involve?
To solve a business problem or achieve an organizational goal, a business requirements analysis must first identify, examine, and document the main requirements connected to the problem.
The following is the basis for a successful procurement project:
• First, define each requirement clearly so that you can assess the time and resources you will need to allocate to the project
• This first step will help you understand the difference between need-to-have features and nice-to-have features in the solution you’re looking for
• It is also the first step on the way to making the vendor selection process as smooth as possible.
Moreover, even while determining business requirements may seem straightforward enough, a thorough analysis of these requirements entails a number of crucial stages, including:
1. Compiling stakeholder needs
2. Sorting stakeholder needs into categories
3. Examining and understanding specifications
4. Requirements for documentation
Let’s look at those in greater detail.
1. Determining important stakeholders
An efficient business needs analysis for a new technology procurement project begins with identifying the important company stakeholders who will be impacted by the project’s results.
The teams using the new technology you purchase, the end users, and everyone else working on the project within your company are all included in this.
Making sure your list of stakeholders is complete is crucial. End-users of a new technology could be dispersed across many teams and departments, for instance, and have various needs. It’s crucial to take into account the executive suite’s needs. Senior executives are important stakeholders who shouldn’t be disregarded, even though they may not be directly involved in a procurement process.
2. Compiling stakeholder needs.
Finding out what each stakeholder needs is the next step. Here are some other approaches of doing this:
• Interviewing stakeholders
• Conducting group workshops and focus groups
• Making a prototype available for end-users
• Developing test cases for users to run through (low-fi prototyping is often good for this).
Here, the goal is to properly comprehend your key stakeholders’ descriptions of what they require, desire, or anticipate from a new technological solution. This will enable you to have a clear understanding of the conditions that a solution must satisfy and the objectives it is supposed to accomplish.
3. Sorting stakeholder needs into categories.
Stakeholder requirements might frequently be really diverse, which is one thing about them.
To provide a comprehensive picture of the project’s business requirements, the next crucial step is to group stakeholder requirements into meaningful categories. These groups ought to include:
• Functional requirements: how a new technology product should perform for the end-user
• Technical requirements: a focus on the technology issues to be considered so that the solution can be implemented effectively
• Operational requirements: a focus on the operational issues to be considered so that the solution will be able to function for the long term
• Change management requirements: how to ensure the transition and adoption of a new technology solution will go smoothly
4. Interpreting and analyzing requirements
The next stage is to assess the needs in a variety of ways after you have categorized each requirement.
You must first clearly define them. It entails reducing what the stakeholders have said to concise, well-defined needs. You then need to:
• Identify the highest priorities
• Determine which requirements are achievable and feasible
• Understand and address any conflicts between requirements
• Draw clear, measurable connections between requirements and business objectives.
5. Requirements documentation.
The following step is creating a concise, in-depth report on stakeholder requirements and company goals after reviewing all of your stakeholders’ needs and establishing priorities. This report can act as the basis for the remainder of the procurement process once you’ve distributed it to your stakeholders and received approval.
Five typical errors in business requirements analysis.
It takes a lot of time and money to undertake a business requirements analysis, and if requirements aren’t accurately recognized and adequately documented, even the most cutting-edge and exquisitely built technological solution might not be able to suit your organization’s demands.
However, it is not always easy to accurately define essential business requirements.
In addition to the numerous moving elements, varied stakeholders, and sophisticated analytical metrics that must be taken into account in a successful business requirements analysis, there may also be other challenges that businesses will encounter along the road.
These are the top five business needs analysis process pitfalls.
1. Missing Stakeholders
Even though it could appear straightforward at first, identifying your stakeholders precisely is a challenging undertaking. This is due to the fact that your stakeholder group goes beyond the obvious users of a new technological solution. It should also include members of the installation team, the operations team responsible for maintaining the new technology, and any organization members who will be impacted later on by modifications to the processes involved.
You can complete this process by creating a map that precisely identifies every individual in your organization who will work with or be impacted by the new technology.
At this stage, a third party consultant can help by collaborating with you on a complete stakeholder study that identifies, ranks, and depicts the stakeholders’ relationships with the new technology. As strange as it may seem, bringing in a third party at this time can be really beneficial because they will be able to assess your organizational structure objectively.
2. Vague Requirements
The appropriate questions to ask your stakeholders and receiving the right responses might be difficult. You’re looking for focused and trustworthy information about what will be required to properly execute a new technological solution while you collect the requirements from your stakeholders.
Organizations frequently struggle to identify the questions that will lead to these useful insights, and as a result, they often wind up with a list of ambiguous criteria that are challenging to translate into practical strategies.
A crucial action to take in this case is to conduct good focus groups and interviews. This entails being transparent about the new technological solution’s intended use, finding out the needs of each stakeholder individually, and foreseeing any problems that stakeholders might choose to ignore or overlook.
When someone on your team has interviewing experience and is knowledgeable with the type of new enterprise technology you are looking to acquire, this process is significantly simpler.
3. Unclear Priorities
Every demand could seem crucial throughout the stakeholder consultation process. Every stakeholder prioritizes their own demands, therefore it’s crucial to distinguish between a nice-to-have feature that would fulfill some of your stakeholders’ wishes and a need-to-have feature that will help you reach your business goals.
You can make these distinctions with the aid of a third party consultant. Due to their lack of bias toward any one specific demand, third-party consultants and analysts are frequently better able to identify essential business requirements. Instead, they can concentrate on sorting out the features that will support business goals and those that won’t.
Additionally, they can prioritize your requirements based on past experience with projects that are similar to yours; if a feature was a nice-to-have for another firm that is similar to yours, it might be for yours as well.
4. Mixed Signals
The viewpoints of your stakeholders can frequently diverge. It’s unavoidable, and if you’re not prepared to sort out their conflicting requirements, identify the source of any muddled signals, and address the disagreement as soon as possible, it can throw a wrench into the gears of your project.
Asking yourself (and your stakeholders) the following questions will help you make sense of conflicting signals and follow up on any disputes:
• Where does the conflict originate? Exists a disagreement between the demands and objectives of various departments? Or perhaps end consumers haven’t been properly questioned or aren’t completely sure what they want.
• Which requirement is more important? Which demand, if a conflict between stakeholder requirements cannot be resolved, is most likely to accomplish business objectives? Which criterion may be more easily fulfilled within the parameters of the procurement project?
• Can both conditions be satisfied? Is there a technological solution or workaround that would allow the new technology solution to satisfy requirements that appear to be in conflict? How would that appear if it were put into practice?
5. Obstacles to communication
• Members of an organization’s technical staff and customers of its products occasionally speak different languages. Without this, needs may be neglected or misunderstood, and the new technological solution may not be able to accomplish all of your organization’s business objectives. Your analysis should clearly explain the important business requirements to both sides.
• You can prevent these communication hurdles by enlisting the aid of a subject matter expert (SME). An SME should be able to provide a report that will convey end-user requirements to both a technical audience and your organization’s stakeholders, whether they are a tech-savvy team member, analyst, or external consultant.
Chapter 2: Shortlisting Vendors
Before you can shortlist
Following the publication of your specifications and assessment standards, potential vendors will:
• Clarify whether they can meet your necessary and desirable experience and skill requirements.
• Give specific dates by which they may begin working and evidence of their abilities, as well as their day rate (specialists only)
When a vendor attempts to apply, they are informed that they are ineligible if they are unable to meet your standards for necessary skills and experience.
Why it’s important to shortlist.
You must narrow down or “sift” potential vendors to:
• Ensure the vendors that best meet your needs progress to the evaluation stage
• Avoid having too many vendors to evaluate
You don’t have to shortlist vendors if you want to take them all through to the evaluation stage.
How many vendors should be assessed
When you publish your requirements, you must specify the maximum number of vendors you plan to consider.
Aim to assess three or more vendors. Most consumers find it manageable to evaluate up to 10 vendors. It depends on your needs how many vendors you assess.
You should move all of the top-scoring suppliers on to the evaluation step if your shortlist is too big and you’ve used all of the shortlist criteria. You can only go over the threshold you set for evaluation at that point.
You can simply examine the vendors that meet your standards if only one or two do.
How to shortlist potential vendors
To narrow down your list of potential vendors, apply some or all of the following criteria:
• When the vendor can start work
• Nice-to-have skills and experience
• Day rate (specialists only)
• Proof of skills and experience
All vendors must be evaluated using the same criteria, which may include the vendor’s availability to begin work.
When the vendor can begin work
If a vendor cannot begin work by the latest start date specified in your specifications, you may disqualify them from consideration.
Desirable abilities and expertise
Sort the list of vendors according to which ones most closely match your nice-to-have experience and competence requirements. To reach the number of vendors you promised to assess when you issued your requirements, you can eliminate vendors with the fewest desirable abilities and experiences.
Day rate (specialists only)
If a specialist’s day fee is higher than the budgetary limit you set with your needs, you can eliminate them from consideration.
You won’t be able to exclude specialists that cost more than your budget if you don’t include a day rate in your requirements.
Ask the vendor to clarify their rate if you believe their day fee is unusually low. If the vendor’s justification is inadequate, you could have to exclude them.
Evidence of expertise and experience
Utilize the grading formula to evaluate the proof that vendors give. Half scores are not allowed. Vendors should be excluded if they receive less than a 2 for any necessary qualification.
Proof of skills and experience
Vendors must offer one illustration for each “skills and experience” requirement. You shouldn’t give suppliers a higher or worse score only because they provided more or fewer examples than another vendor unless you specifically requested different examples.
Additionally, vendors have been informed that they can use the same samples for various experience and skill requirements. This means that as long as it demonstrates the vendor’s ability to achieve the need, you shouldn’t penalize them for utilizing an example.
If you stated that you would add “points” to each criteria in order to weight them individually, you cannot utilize these points to weight the evidence of both necessary and desirable abilities and experience throughout the shortlisting process. Individual criteria weightings are only permitted at the evaluation stage.
How to inform vendors who were shortlisted
You need to send emails to the unsuccessful vendors after scoring their responses.
To all the vendors you’re excluding, you can send the same email because:
• They can’t start when you need them to
• They had the fewest nice-to-have skills and experience
• They scored less than the vendors you’re taking through to the evaluation stage
• Their day rate is above the budget you gave in your requirements (specialists only)
You need to send more detailed feedback if you’re excluding a vendor for any other reason.
Template emails for vendors
In your response to unsuccessful vendors you could say:
‘[requirements name]’: shortlisting feedback
Thanks for applying to ‘[requirements name]’.
Unfortunately, your application was unsuccessful. The evidence you provided scored x overall. The leading vendor scored x.
Unfortunately, your application was unsuccessful because you couldn’t start work when we needed you to.
Unfortunately, your application was unsuccessful because the day rate you provided was outside our budget (specialists only).
If you have any questions, email email@example.com
[contact and organization name]
If you send the same email to all the unsuccessful vendors, make sure you hide their names and email addresses from view.
You must email all the shortlisted vendors with the same information, making sure you hide names and email addresses from view.
Provide vendors with all the information they need to take part in the assessment stage.
Email to vendors
In your response to successful vendors you could say:
‘[requirements name]’: shortlisting feedback
Thanks for applying to ‘[requirements name]’.
We’d like to invite you to: [delete as appropriate]
• An interview
• Give a presentation/demo
• Provide a written proposal
The presentation/interview will be on x at x.
We’ll need to see:
• Further evidence of your skills and experience
• Details of your work history
We’ll need this extra material and evidence by x.
We’ll email you by xx to let you know if you’ve been successful.
If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
[contact and organization name]
You must keep a record of how you shortlisted vendors, along with any emails you send, for your audit trail.
Chapter 3: Product Demo
The most important step in a SaaS company’s sales process is the product demo, also known as a sales demo. It’s a special chance for vendors to show a potential customer the worth of their goods.
The core of any software sales process is the product demo. Demos that are poorly done cause closure rates to dramatically slow down. On the other side, they can be quite successful if done correctly.
In essence, the demo frequently determines whether a deal is closed or a prospect is lost. A strong demo demonstrates to a vendor’s potential customers how their product actually alleviates the problems of the buyer and helps the latter’s business overall.
As Geoffrey James at Inc.com says, “There is almost nothing more powerful than a great product demonstration. When done correctly, a demo allows the customer to see and feel how things will be better if they buy (and worse if they don’t).”
Why is the demo such a crucial component of the business-to-business sales process?
What is a product demo?
A product demo explains to a current or potential consumer the benefits of a vendor’s good or service. Typically, it entails a presentation of key traits and abilities. The demo’s main objective is to close a trade.
What distinguishes a sales demo from a product demo?
It’s basically the same, though. Other terms used include “demo,” “product demonstration,” and “SaaS demo.”
But the response you receive could vary depending on who you ask. For instance, Hubspot explicitly distinguishes between the sales demo and the product demo. Giving a prospect a demonstration of your product or service is known as a “sales demo.” The approach is the same for a product demo, but a current client is involved.
The presentation for a potential customer is referred to as a “demo” by the majority of SaaS sales executives, including Steli Efti, Jacco van der Kooji, Peter Kazanjy, and Craig Rosenberg, without ever making a distinction between a product demo and a sales demo specifically.
Who gives a product demonstration?
The demo is typically given by the sales representative, or more precisely, the account executive. In small businesses and early-stage startups, the entrepreneur is frequently the one operating the demo.
When does the vendor deliver a product demo?
Normally, the demo happens after a lead has been qualified. There are numerous methods for generating leads. However, the inside sales process for the majority of B2B SaaS businesses is relatively similar:
1. Lead generation: Vendor gets a lead, either inbound or outbound
2. Discovery: Vendor qualifies that lead, i.e. verify if he/she matches the ideal customer profile
3. Pitch: Vendor demonstrates the value of the software to the prospect. This is when the product demo happens
4. Conversion: Vendor converts the opportunity, i.e. close the contract
Here’s an example: A user, also known as a visitor, accesses the vendor’s website. This website visitor submits a contact form as a sign of interest in the good or service the seller is offering online, or as a lead. The vendor then evaluates the data they have about that lead, such as the sector, business, job title, location, need for their good or service, and purchasing power, among other things. A lead is considered qualified if it fits their ideal consumer profile. Buyers become opportunities once the seller has completed a demo with a qualified lead. The last stage is to turn that opportunity into a client by guiding the buyer to sign a contract and then supplying them with further resources.
How does a vendor present a product demo?
Over the past ten years, inside sales have significantly replaced traditional field sales as the primary method of B2B software sales. Inside sales, which are conducted remotely utilizing methods like the phone, email, and online meetings, are currently the most popular sales approach in B2B technology.
SaaS demos are typically presented using online meeting tools that incorporate screen sharing, audio, face-to-face video, chat, and more.
General-purpose online meeting platforms like GoToMeeting, Zoom, or Hangouts are still widely used in businesses. A new generation of online meeting tools is emerging that offer advantages above general platforms that are use-case-specific, such as Demodesk for demos and onboarding. Features include automated scheduling, CRM reporting, and real-time sales support, among many others.
Why is the B2B SaaS product demo so crucial to the sales process?
Various factors determine the role of the product demo in the sales process.
The ACV is the principal motivator (Annual Contract Value). It is explained as the typical annualized revenue per client contract, excluding one-time costs.
Of course, there are other factors to consider when deciding on the best sales strategy, but on average, with an ACV of less than $1K, it usually doesn’t make sense to engage in a customized product demo with your prospect.
Why? because giving a customized demo requires resources from the vendor. It requires a large investment.
Chapter 4: Negotiation & Awarding Contracts
Vendor negotiation: What Is It?
The strategic process of coming to an arrangement that is advantageous to both your organization and its third parties is called vendor negotiation. It can entail a number of dialogues, mutual concessions, and the use of soft skills, which we cover in this course handbook.
3 Key points for Vendor Contract Negotiations
Three important things to keep in mind when negotiating a vendor contract if you lack knowledge or confidence are as follows:
• You may improve your negotiation success by learning and using a set of fundamental ideas and procedures.
• There is no one style or method that you must use to negotiate well.
• Rarely does negotiation occur at a single, organized gathering. It’s a procedure that can start as soon as you get in contact with a possible counterparty. EVERY encounter is a chance to bargain or set the foundation.
You might be relieved to learn that being a skilled negotiator doesn’t require you to become overly pushy and confrontational. In fact, in 99% of situations, doing this will not result in a positive outcome.
The fundamental, overarching rule is that negotiations shouldn’t be adversarial.
Parties to a negotiation should see one another as partners in pursuit of a mutually beneficial result.
Reviewing this sentence’s two essential components in the context of a contract negotiation:
• Collaboration is essential. It is very likely that both parties think there is a deal to be made and something to gain if you have reached the negotiation stage with a potential vendor. The negotiation will be more successful if both parties are committed to working together to achieve this.
• It is crucial to make sure the contract is “mutually agreeable.” Forcing a potential vendor to accept terms that are much worse than what they would typically accept serves little purpose. This may eventually lead to animosity and a lack of motivation, which may lead to contract violations.
Guidelines for effective negotiation
The following four suggestions will help you negotiate successfully:
Do some preliminary research
Do some research on your vendor, their sector of the economy, and how it has affected their business. You will gain a better grasp of their position and how they might be able to change your agreement if you do this.
Become rooted in the marketplace by learning what rival suppliers charge and what companies like yours spend on comparable services. With this understanding, the dialogue moves from you asking questions to a more fruitful discussion, and you probably stand a greater chance of securing the terms you’re after.
Be open-minded about what constitutes a “win-win.”
Be ready to compromise because most talks won’t result in both parties receiving exactly what they want.
Deals that are “win-win” are a bit of a misnomer. In a win-win agreement, both parties can make concessions to ensure that everyone benefits to some extent. In a relationship-based setting, win-win negotiations employ a long-term approach with an equilibrium of success for both parties over time.
Aim for integrity and openness.
When you are not honest and forthright during negotiations, you harm yourself, your company, and your vendor partners. The Angry Crab Shack’s director of operations, Eric Kardon, underlined the importance of complete candor on all sides of these dialogues.
According to Kardon, being open and honest with a vendor about your wants and where you stand is the greatest way to be transparent. “Compromise is necessary if you want to establish a long-lasting business partnership. A typical compromise to obtain your terms is to extend the contract for a longer period of time than you originally desired. Just keep in mind that it is less likely that there will be more negotiations if one party feels they did not receive a favorable outcome.”
Be prepared to walk away and continue looking
Negotiations might not result in you getting everything you desire, and that’s okay. You might have to give up and partner with a different vendor.
Not every opportunity is for you. Not securing a deal isn’t a failure, it might just not be the right time for it, or even unconsciously one party might realize it’s not a fit even though neither of you can quantify why. Keep yourself on their radar and watch for opportunities, or reapproach them when you’re able to better meet terms.