How do you think a buyer prepares for your sales call?
Some do more than you know. One buyer's work on rating suppliers' sales
calls gives us insight into how other buyers are scrutinizing our selling.
It can also teach us how to be effective salespeople.
that makes selling better. Ms. Vicki Perfect is the
former Director of Employment and Education at Greenville Hospital System
in Greenville, South Carolina. She led the project to develop criteria to
evaluate vendors and the products and services they sell. The hospital
needed to evaluate for a variety of reasons. They needed to better
understand the diversity of their needs and to establish a shared vision
for the expected outcomes of the product or service. Buyers from different
departments were purchasing similar products for different application
needs. This was impacting the bottom line of the
They also wanted to
create a shared understanding of the relationship between cost benefits
and customer satisfaction. With the hospital industry undergoing
significant cost constraints it was easy to select from the lowest bid.
However, ultimately that selection of the product or service had an impact
on the hospital's ability to deliver quality care. By creating standard
selection criteria the hospital was able to evaluate financial impact as
well as the service impact of its purchase.
checkup. Hospital management
brought staff from different departments and different disciplines
together in cross-functional focus groups. Their assignment was to
identify and prioritize their product and customer satisfaction needs.
They then developed specific evaluation criteria. These criteria were to
address the hospital's operational needs; impact on patient care; product
or service presentation/quality; and provide references from other
companies. Cost was also a factor. Each vendor was rated on a 10 point
scale for each item. Then each item's weighted priority was factored into
operation was a success. The hospital found that
the evaluation criteria resulted in decreasing the time it took to
purchase the products/services and deploy them throughout the hospital.
The members of the cross-functional teams became champions for the
products/services that were actually selected and used the selection
criteria as a mini-education tool to implement the product or service in
their department. An added plus for the hospital was that this effort
developed intelligent buyers so that the hospital, rather than
salespeople, determined what they wanted and needed.
So the next time you
prepare for your sales call, remember that your customers may be doing
their own preparation as well. Ask your customers about their purchasing
criteria. If you're going to be evaluated for your selling, you might as
well know what your customer is looking for. It's one way to deliver just
what the doctor ordered.
Maura Schreier-Fleming works with business and sales
professionals on skills and strategies so they can sell more and be more
productive at work. She is the author of Real-World Selling for
Out-of-this-World Results which is available at
www.BestatSelling.com. She founded her company Best@Selling in
1997. You can reach her at 972.380.0200.