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:
- FIXING Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI – RFP Processes
- More on Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI-RFP Processes
- Why SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI Processes are Stupid
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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