ERP and SAP software integrators and their sales people are quite skilled at creating a “fog” around key selection criteria. Because of the amount of money at stake and the potential for huge commissions many of them will do almost anything to “get a deal.”
For years SAP consultants have been frustrated by the messes software sales people make. They promise anything, no matter how crazy or stupid, just to make a sale. Then the consultants have to deliver what was promised.
One of the unfortunate necessities with these kinds of sales models is that often consulting managers, senior managers, or “engagement managers” work to “reset” your expectations as soon as they land the project (see Scams, Shams, ERP System Integrator Tactics). They systematically “walk back” the promises made by the sales people. In the end you get little or nothing like what you were promised. Sometimes this is the result of the deliberate and known sales “strategies” that are used by the ERP system integrators, sometimes it is an unfortunate result of an overzealous sales person who is willing to do anything to get you to sign a contract.
Let’s start this series by understanding who these sales people are.
Early in the ERP System Integrator Sales Cycle
It takes a special type of person to do well at high dollar, high stakes ERP software sales. They generally tend to be very friendly, personable, and quite charming. At the same time they are incredibly manipulative. SOME of them (certainly not all) are convincing and skilled verbal manipulators who can look you straight in the eye and lie to you with a smile on their face and a firm hand shake.
- Vendors sales people are trained to become your friend and to gain your trust.
- Software Sales People are:
- Highly Trained Professionals
- Educated to know and expect your next move
- Extremely Personable
- Sincere appearance of being sympathetic to your needs.
- Vendors are trained to find who says “Yes” (targeting key decision makers)
If you understand the “games ERP vendors play” as you go through this process you will be far more effective at not becoming a victim to their tactics. As we will explore next week, as the sales cycle begins these SAP or ERP sales people use a number of techniques to distract you from what really matters in your RFI and RFP process. One of the first places to begin overcoming many of the vendor sales tactics are related to the steps you take long before you ever entertain you first RFI.
SAP or ERP Software and Vendor Selection – First Things First (Governance and Control)
After you’ve decided to either replace your current systems, or at least investigate the possibility, it is important to set up governance and controls. These types of mechanisms to review and to manage the process are critical. Otherwise you may become little more than a speed-bump to sophisticated sales practices. The more objective and structured your approach is the less likely you are to fall victim to some of the sales scams. Some of the important things to do early in the process are:
- Establish a Steering Committee
- Define Near Term and Long Term Objectives
- Determine interface requirements
- Which system(s) do you want to replace
- What are the license and maintenance cost considerations
- Which systems will stay
- Which systems may need to be modified because of the change
- Which systems will need interfaces
- Which system(s) do you want to replace
- Refine Scope with Complex or Exception Processes (see Using SAP Solution Composer for SAP Scope – Process Alignment)
- Evaluate the need for “traditional” third party software (taxes, EDI, fax or e-mail integration, etc.)
- Confirm software and hardware budget estimates
- Select a Project Team and a Project Leader
- Define Authority
- Engage them in the scope and selection efforts
- Create a Review Process
These initial steps are like the foundation for building a house. If you do a good job with the foundation then the rest of the building has a good footing to start with. If you take too many shortcuts, or if you measure incorrectly, you end up with a mess — your plans will be different than you originally expected to accommodate the foundation problems.
More Background on SAP or ERP RFI – RFP Processes
The initial efforts listed here will set the stage for your SAP or ERP RFI to your vendors, then the RFP from your short list vendors, and finally to your vendor selection and then management of your project. If you decide to eventually develop a center of excellence then this initial foundation will become a key component of your marketplace competitive strategy.
For more background on SAP or ERP system integrator and vendor RFIs or RFPs, see the following posts:
- Breakthrough Project Success: 2 of 4, IT Vendor Proposal RFP
- 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
- SAP Implementation Partner or Company Selection Criteria
Stay tuned next week as we look at the actual sales process. We’ll review some of the classic tactics and strategies as you move deeper into the sales process.
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