- Many [not all] ‘Solution Specialists’ aren’t properly trained and really don’t have the right tools to go onsite and gather the business requirements proficiently.
- Many [not all] ‘Sales Reps’ don’t know how to ask to get paid for conducting the assessment [ouch].
- SE’s or technicians are thrown into the fire and asked to ‘survey’ what the customer’s business and technical requirements are in regards to imaging. Most of their experience is with the output side (printing) and now they need to fully understand the input side of the workflow. So.. the tools they are likely to use are fabricated from existing output surveys, or worse yet; they quickly make a spreadsheet, guess at the questions, and hope it gathers enough data that when the system is configured it will meet most of the client’s requirements. KEY: Proper training and professional software toolkits can eliminate this dilemma and ensure the solution will fit the need [happy customer, happy vendor].
- Most sales reps are experienced in ‘transactional’ selling. More frequently called ‘box-selling’ wherein the rep has a brief engagement with the prospect, qualifies, sells and moves on to the next opportunity. Now they are expected to realize this was yesterday’s way of selling, and today it is all about solution selling. In order to do this you must know the business requirements. To do that you must do an assessment. If you send expertly trained, certified staff to conduct the interviews you will have to pay them. The rep has to explain that to the prospect and ask to get paid. This changes the outcome from “your opinion” [done for free] to a professional observation [paid for]. The later will be taken seriously! KEY: Build the rep’s confidence and belief structure and he will see the value and not be afraid to ask to get paid [motivating training is needed].
I just finished a 2-day needs assessment class with several dealers. I always appreciate the night-and-day change in sentiment I see in students from the start to the finish of the class. We tell them before they sign up that by the end of the class they will be able to sell a needs assessment, perform a needs assessment, and sell the solution. I know they all doubt these bold claims. However, by the end of Day 1, they are absolutely convinced that they have the knowledge and the tools they need to position and sell a needs assessment.
How do we transition them from doubters to believers, you ask? This brief article will provide some insights and information that I hope will challenge you to explore alternative methods to position and sell needs assessments with greater ease and success. Well, I can’t give you the first day of training in a single post, but here is the general framework.
In the previous article, we discussed selling the EDM needs assessment. We succeeded—it’s sold, now what do we do? In this brief article we will highlight the technical and logistical considerations of conducting an EDM needs assessment. It’s one thing to sell the process; we have to deliver on our promises if we have any chance at selling the entire solution. Remember, the needs assessment has two purposes: designing the optimal solution to meet the customer’s business and functional requirements, and selling that solution. Keep in mind, the solution is NOT just technology—but part of a business solution. More on this later…
Where do we start? The first requirement is to establish your point of contact (POC) and chain of communication. The vendor/consultant project manager must have a single project point of contact on the customer side to coordinate the assessment itinerary. The consultant will need to meet with several representatives from the customer enterprise and must be given access to applicable corporate infrastructure. We always submit two documents to our customer POC. The first document is an itinerary, listing who we need to speak to and for how long. I detail the individual surveys below. The second document we provide is a boiler-plate that the customer POC can use to inform the interviewees of the upcoming meetings. There is nothing worse than having people pulled in a room to answer your questions when they do not understand who you are and the purpose of the meetings. Both these documents are provided to our students as part of our Needs Assessment Tool-kit.
Conducting the surveys: