Business Solutions with SAP

Overcome SAP-ERP System Integrator Sales Tactics 4

May 31st, 2011 by

SAP-ERP Vendor Cost

This week we will take a “mid-point” check and do a brief review of the sales tactics and scams used by some ERP or SAP system integrator sales people. After this short overview we will address some additional ways to ensure you get the most from your SAP RFP efforts.

After this short review of the sales tactics and some additional techniques for dealing with them we will continue this series.  The next posts will cover the following topics so you will definitely want to “stay tuned” for more information around:

  • qualifying vendors,
  • final considerations,
  • negotiation tactics,
  • licensing considerations, and
  • contract signing.

Below is a brief review of the sales tactics we’ve covered so far, they can be seen in more detail in the following posts:

ERP Vendor Sales Tactics (Review)

In the previous posts we covered the following tactics ERP and SAP system integrators routinely use to convince you to part with your money:

  • Relationship building… “lets be friends”
  • End runs… “get to the key decision-maker”
  • Beware of the stranger bringing in food, offering dinner at fancy restaurants, or any other “gifts” that inhibit objective decision making
  • Subtle (or not so subtle) introduction of doubt about competitors or other products
  • Alligator mouth sales who won’t shut up and listen
  • The “Survey Demo” – “What do you want to see?” while failing to address the specifics of the RFP. Always trying to sell you SOMETHING whether you asked for it or not. This often goes with the “gee whiz” don’t we have a great product “X.”
  • My manager must meet your manager – attempting to gain back door decision-maker face time
  • Things are not always what they appear to be – beware vaporware, custom screens, and third-party products that are not disclosed as part of the overall demonstrated “solution”
  • Lets change the subject – attempting to distract from the questions or key issues that are being raised
  • The unload the bus approach – bringing in an “army” of influencers to “work” the decision-making crowd

Additional Methods to Manage Your SAP – ERP System Integrator RFP Processes

As you enter the proposal process for your ERP vendors there are a number of things you can do to manage the process. The better YOU manage the process, rather than the ERP vendors who are presenting the more likely you are to make a good decision. The entire goal here is to set the stage that you are in control rather than allowing the ERP system integrator to control the process.

1.  Get rid of the fluff and set a slide presentation limitation of no more than 50 slides for the l presentation and no more than another 50 slides for an Appendix of supporting information. If a vendor is unable to capture the important items to your company and its results (rather than touting how great they are) in 50 slides they may not be the best fit. This limitation forces them to narrow the focus of their presentation to what is really important.

2.  In your RFP it should be spelled out explicitly that customer qualifications and customer references can ONLY come from the specific resumes of the consultants who will be ON the project. Ignore all the “gee whiz aren’t we special” because we have so many great customers our company has worked with. If the customer list doesn’t represent the skills and talent they are proposing for your project, why do you care who else they have done business with? For more background and understanding please see FIXING Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI – RFP Processes. Ensure that the vendor knows any deviation here will be scored harshly or may disqualify them.

3.  Include a provision in the RFP that unverifiable claims of business benefit will be scored harshly. If a statistic or a reference to benefit is noted anywhere in the vendor’s presentation, whether on paper or during oral presentation, it must be supported by a verifiable source. If it is not then score it against them. It is a routine practice for vendors to “promote” questionable or unverifiable “results” and throw numbers around to try to persuade you.

If a vendor claims they helped company “X” gain “Y” benefit then ask for a verifiable source for the benefit, how the baseline for the benefit was established, and how the change was measured. Do NOT accept any double-talk here. The inability to do this should be considered as 100% unverifiable, or in the worst case a blatant lie.

4.  Ensure your RFP asks the vendor to describe their process for handling less than optimal consulting resources. Ask them to note in writing what their approach and policies are on credits for less than optimal resources. In this provision of the RFP make it explicit that this section will be scored heavily or even disqualify them if their policy is not adequate.

Consulting fraud, and the number of “fake” consultants with great looking resumes is so rampant that it is frightening. And worse still, many of the system integrators are well aware of this and do not take strong measures to address and correct it. If they provide “junior” resources or even contractors who are fakes then they should pay the price.

Conclusion on the ERP Vendor Sales Tactics During Their Proposal

The ERP vendor RFI and RFP processes, including their presentation are like the foundation of a new building. If you get the foundation right, and if it is solid, you have a good base to start your construction project. However, if you take too many shortcuts, or do not exercise enough diligence to ensure a good footing, good materials, and the right measurements, the building you end up with will not be what you expected when you start.

Take the time and effort on the due diligence in the early stages of your ERP or SAP vendor selection and it will pay dividends later on. Ignore it and you may have a disaster in the making.

Related Posts:

Overcome SAP-ERP System Integrator Sales Tactics 3

May 23rd, 2011 by
SAP or ERP system vendor sales scams or shams

Stop the Sales Tactics

This week we will look at more aggressive ERP sales tactics used to manipulate you into signing over your checkbook to these ERP system integrators.  Moving through the process the tactics used are starting to get more interesting–, we’ve gone from manipulation (Overcome SAP-ERP System Integrator Sales Tactics 2) to more aggressive tactics.

Often software vendors with inferior products resort to many underhanded or dirty tactics and scams.  And if you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense.  When business software vendors are up against a competitor with a superior product they can only hope to prevent you from making an objective comparison of their product to the competitors.  When you add in the massive payday; tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or in large sales millions of dollars on the line it should be expected.  And don’t get me wrong, it only gets more intense when it comes to the services offerings.  At least you have a greater chance to gain a more objective evaluation of the software than you do vendor service claims.  Tactics can get downright nasty, but always with a smiling patina that the sales person is just “trying to help.”

Once you know the tactics you can identify them and discount their effectiveness.  Always remember the sales person’s goal is to sell to you.  Your goal is to make sure you get benefit for your company and see a return on your SAP investment.

Deep into the SAP-ERP System Integrator Sales Cycle

  • Introduction of doubt
    • “Try to discredit your competition without being obvious – pointing out bad press (where it may not be warranted, although at times it is), providing “rumors” or “special insight” that they really don’t have, anything that distracts from a practical / objective decision on the ACTUAL functionality should be viewed with suspicion.
  • The “Survey Demo”
    • Need + Feature = Benefit.  They will try to “discover” requirements not in the RFP to show you “cool” things you didn’t request.  It’s all about trying to create an impression with you.  Counteract this by simply asking, “what RFP section does this address?”
  • My manager must meet  your manager
    • IBM study…
      • Sales person with the most “face time” wins
  • Unload the bus – a “mob” shows up to “work” the room and every client or ERP RFP participant.  Resolve this by restricting the number of on-site vendor participants.
  • Crocodile salesmen – All mouth and no ears.  They are too busy telling you everything they think you want to hear, whether it is true or not, so they can make you their next meal.
  • The magic number game – We saved your competitor $$$…  You can gain up to x% market / revenue / margin / cost reduction…  You name it.  They throw numbers around as if they are the masters of entire markets and industries.   They baffle you with statistics and financial claims.  Or they might ask you where you “need to be” to make a deal.

Want to change it?  EVERY TIME they make some claim ask them if they can put that claim in their contract with the penalty clause!  WATCH THEM SLITHER AWAY FROM THE CLAIMS!

Deep into the Sales Cycle – Product Demos

In the previous section the focus was on the sales approach used by the sales people themselves.  This section is an overview of product demos and the various tactics and strategies used here.

  • Provide your data for demonstrations
  • Create “day in the life” scripts
  • Give the supplier time to prepare
    • Differences in prep time could indicate complexity
  • Hold-back some exceptions
    • See if the vendor says “No” or makes excuses for why the exception can’t be done
    • Test flexibility in the solution and in their skill by asking them to demonstrate these exceptions in their solution.  Let them know at the beginning of the demo what they are and ask them to have it prepared by the end.
  • Make sure they include sample implementation plans, templates, resources, tools, etc.
  • If your supplier does well, tell them but DO NOT commit (at this point a decent sales person will “move in” for the close).

There is one last sales type to consider here, that is the effective sales person.  Notice I didn’t say “good” sales person but effective.  They have been carefully trained, they know how to “work” the room, and they know how to move you along in the process.  They are polished, understand listening skills, and they will relay back to you exactly what you want to hear.  These are the “vaporware” aficionados – they  will slyly sell you on something that does not exist.  They will sell you on their “A” team when the best they can provide is a “B” team.  They will sell you on how well their software or solution fits your needs without actually showing you any proof it does.

These sales people want you to fall in love with their amazing “story” about how they will somehow produce amazing results for you.  Like a magician with their smoke and mirrors to hide their real actions they carefully find out what you want to hear and tell it to you whether it is true or not.  What proof do they have that they can deliver these results for you?

They sell you a vacation with the intention of delivering you a bucket of sand for the full vacation price.  They sell you a vacation home but after you sign the contract they hand you a doll house box full of parts and a hot glue gun.

They will convince you that using them will cost you less without committing to anything that might actually put a real limit or box around their fees.  The will promise you will get the results you want without actually providing any way of achieving them.  These are the dangerous sales people.

Related Posts:

Overcome SAP-ERP System Integrator Sales Tactics 2

May 16th, 2011 by
SAP or ERP system vendor sales scams or shams

ERP system vendor scams

This week we move into the live ERP or SAP sales process.  After your RFP and as you entertain all of those proposals this is where the sales games, scams, and shams really kick in.

As the process unfolds beware of the many tactics, schemes, tools, and tricks used by ERP system integrators to gain access to your checkbook. Like a magician with a bag of tricks and a potential million dollar deal or more (sometimes MUCH more) on the line, the show begins.  Software integrators load up on tricks, schemes, or other ways to separate you from your money.

As the SAP Sales Process Progresses

  • Beware of gifts not directly related to making a decisions
    • ERP or SAP sales people have large expense accounts
    • They are practiced at entertaining, influence, and manipulation
  • They often play “let’s change the subject” to divert your attention or distract you from what is important
    • They try to go very fast or distract you with something related but not what you asked for – you slow them down and use objective scoring protocols to counteract this.
    • Chalk talk – stop the “chalk talk” by asking “can you show me in the system” and if they cannot simply note that you will have to score them down on that item.
    • “Stump the chump” is a game they play by using techo–babble or just talking in terms that no one seems to understand but “sound” intelligent.  Simply ask them to “show me in the system” or “can you tell us all what part of the RFP are you addressing so we can be sure it is scored correctly?”
    • “Gee whiz isn’t that neat?” is a classic strategy to show you some unrelated but “cool” functionality to distract you from the key requirements you requested – Ask them “can you show me what section of the RFP you are addressing?” Tell them up front, in the RFP, to spell out in their presentation or demonstration exactly which RFP section they are addressing.
  • Things are not always what they appear to be – Videotape the sessions
    • Reports – Be sure the application has some built-in report functionality
    • 3rd Party “add-ins” (beware here)OS / Server / Hardware / DB will generally be required.  But other third party applications may not be mentioned by the vendor even though they are being used in demos.  Make sure it is clarified in the RFP and in the contract that the software is all-inclusive of what was demonstrated, or what was presented as “X” during the demonstration and it is videotaped.
    • “Vaporware” – You need on site, hands on time to evaluate the software. If they want the sale insist they provide you access to the software to put your hands on it yourself.
    • Custom screens or queries – Some vendors will do custom mock-ups to try to gain your business and then develop the REAL solution on your dime.  Think of these like facades, a pretty screen with no functionality attached.
  • Application “consultants” who participate in the proposals
    • Are product experts
    • May be compensated on a sale
  • Bait and switch
    • Consultants or their resumes may be presented during the proposal but suddenly have to “leave” the project or never show up
    • “In development” or “beta testing” usually means you will be paying to develop the product.

Strategies to Overcome Some of the Initial SAP System Integrator Sales Tactics

The following points were extracted from the post on Breakthrough Project Success: 2 of 4, IT Vendor Proposal RFP .

One of the most important things you can do is to develop a rational scoring protocol that addresses how well a vendor adhered to your RFP.  Score it section by section, and weighted to what is important for your company (a future post will address using the proven AHP method).

Make sure that the vendor provides live demonstrations of system functionality.  This helps ensure that the vendor brings knowledgeable consultants to the proposal — they will have to take time with some of their internal resources to be able to set up the demo and have some of their knowledgeable consultants available to show you system functionality and to answer questions.

Ensure that the vendor provides the implementation tools and samples of each of the templates and resources they use for the project.  Offer to sign an NDA to eliminate any of their arguments about “proprietary” information (see SAP Success Factors for Vender Selection – Responsibility Matrix 2, about 2/3rds of the way down the post is an RFI table).

If this is a vendor selection then the most important consideration are the consultants.  If it were my company I would tell the sales people to stay home and bring your proposed project team to do the proposal.  They are the ones that will deliver the solution, they are the ones that will be the greatest influence on your project success (or failure) and they are the ones that you will be paying for.  If you would like more information on this, please see the following posts:

Finally, make absolutely certain that any commitments made by the vendor during the presentation are documented or recorded, even if on video, so that they can be held accountable.  Be sure to work with your legal counsel to incorporate claims made by the ERP system integrator into the contract.  That contract MUST also contain penalties for breach.

In the end you owe it to yourself and to your company to protect your future and the company’s investment.  Invest the time and energy in this due diligence to help ensure that happens.

Stay tuned next week as we move “Deep into the sales cycle.”

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