A year ago I was giving an actual in person presentation on how to buy HR Tech to a group of HR directors. As you can see, it was literally a fireside chat:
I really love to speak to smaller groups as it allows for a conversation versus me just talking at people (also why I love it when people reply to our newsletters with questions/comments). And, this group was a particularly chatty one with lots of great comments.
However, one person stood out to me as having the exact wrong mentality when it came to working with the sales teams at vendors. Specifically, they said they liked to meet with a sales person every quarter for a year as a test to see if they were willing to work hard for the sale.
First off, I thought this was a bit rude as you’re just wasting the other person’s time. Everyone (myself included!) has a tendency to treat salespeople a bit poorly, but this was slightly egregious in my opinion.
Secondly, this was a huge waste of that person’s time as well. What were they even talking about every quarter? Just catching up? Getting yet another demo of the product?
However, the most wrong headed aspect of this tactic was that it meant the only products this HR leader would ever buy would be subpar.
How this leads to buying the wrong product
Sales people have one precious commodity - their time. With time and diligence, they can reach out to more prospects, do more demos, and close more business.
They are extremely protective of their time because they need it to hit their quota and make their bonus. The only sales people who are not protective of their time are ones that are either bad at their job or desperate. That’s it.
Think about this sales process: you want to buy a new applicant tracking system so you build your shortlist by leveraging our research, reach out to 7 vendors, do demos, then each quarter meet with each vendor, then pick one after a year.
Who will continue to meet with you out of the 7 vendors you originally picked? The sales person who is either in the 99th percentile in terms of grit/time management, or the one who’s calendar isn’t full and is pursuing every last hail mary to meet their quota. Yup, it’s probably going to be the latter.
The sales people who’s calendars are full because they have a great product, strong referrals, good marketing, etc will have given up on you after the second call. They are too busy hitting quota to deal with tire kickers.
This is a somewhat extreme example of a bad buying process, but it’s not all that uncommon. And, less extreme examples of similar behavior are very prevalent. It’s important to note where you may be a bad buyer as you could be eliminating opportunities for yourself and your business.
The flip side
By being a good buyer, you can get better deals and buy software that you may not otherwise be qualified to purchase.
Personally, I’ve been able to buy one seat of a sales automation platform that typically requires a 10 seat minimum. I’ve also recently purchased a data product for less than $1k that typically starts at $20k paid upfront annually.
I’m not saying this to brag, I’m just saying there is a lot of power in being a knowledgeable buyer of software and that’s why we keep sharing our tips and tricks on our blog and newsletter :)