Buyers Listen Up: Practical Advice to Improve the Sales Process

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There are huge pressures on sales and marketing supremos and chief technology officers to demonstrate the return on investment for spend on adtech and martech. Procurement naturally doesn’t want to see a dollar wasted and wants to know how these sizeable tech investments pay off – ultimately everyone must convince the boards of publishers and brands of the wisdom of their decisions.

The decision-makers cannot afford to make mistakes in an environment that is becoming increasingly pressurised, where investing in the wrong tech will be a costly error and where the right tech can bestow a crucial competitive advantage. Buyers are becoming more rigorous in their examining and auditing of vendors and their products.

Advice from decision-makers on how best to pitch and engage with clients can be found in my sister blog Tech Selling – Tough Truths to Help Vendors Do a Better Job.

But business discussions and negotiations are a two-way street and sellers can also offer useful advice on how best to run a pitch process for the benefit of both parties and how to ensure buyers have the information they need to make an informed decision.

Here are six useful tips offered by tech vendors:

  • Before moving to a pitch, buyers should provide a list of their top three business priorities and make sure they have thought through their strategy and reasons for needing tech before the meeting. “If the problem we are solving is on the list, then we will come in and pitch, if it isn’t we can spend our time working on a client that is prioritising this issue”, says James Pringle, founder and CEO of Suggestv, the video recommendation tool for publishers.
  • Be transparent and honest about the problems you are experiencing. Pringle adds: “As a tech vendor, I am genuinely trying to help your business and I need to know what is keeping you up at night. If you tell me, I will try and fix it.”
  • Prospective clients should try to produce an RFP document and send this to the vendors. Alasdair Cross, co-founder of PI compli, which focuses on GDPR-safe advertising adds: “Even if it’s only one-page long, it will assist you in defining the business problem and parameters around the solution – i.e. what is in-scope and out of scope for the solution.”
  • In a presentation don’t be afraid to ask questions of the vendor team. “There is no such thing as a dumb question”, says James Erskine, Director of Social Circle, adding: “During the evaluation process, don’t be afraid to put in additional steps such as a phone call with the supplier.”
  • Never underestimate chemistry – the tool / platform might be the best, but if the people that have created it are not helpful or work in a different way to the client / buyer then the fit might not be the no-brainer some think. Conversely, as Cross points out: “Try to be objective about the vendor’s service and not be too impressed with buzzwords, slick sales charm or sly promises of gifts!
  • Buyers need to be willing to include others from their organisation in the conversations, as this will help speed things along.

Propeller’s Tough Truths for Tech Vendors panel takes place at 3:20pm on Thursday 22nd at Advertising Week Europe and features Adnan Ebrahim Founder & CEO Car Throttle, Jonathan Lewis Head of Partnerships & Digital Innovation Channel 4, Fiona McKinnon General Manager The Pangaea Alliance (inc. CNN, Reuters, Fast Company), Guljeet Samra Digital Commercial Operations Director Hearst Magazines, Daniel Spears Programmatic Director The Guardian.

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