Buying Decisions (Issue 701)

In which we are reminded that buyers sometimes stop or slow down their processes with us because of related or unrelated issues.

I’m confused. Or, more precisely, I’m not reassured yet. Clarity is looking for an outside firm to help us address some growth issues. We have identified and interviewed one firm extensively. We’ve talked in less detail with another firm. Using the “try three, buy one” theory, we should interview a third.

If I were the sales guy for the first firm, I would be pulling my hair out. He got to us first. He accurately diagnosed our issues. He made a detailed proposal. He answered our questions and provided references, and yet… I’m still thinking we should delay a “buy” decision and talk to a couple of other firms.

Why is that? For a lower price? Not really, we think these guys are probably competitive and price isn’t the primary consideration.

A “silver bullet”? Something that another firm does that is so compelling that we would be swayed their way? Possible, and not likely.

What else? Maybe another firm that has had experience with a firm EXACTLY like ours with EXACTLY the same issues we’re facing with SPECTACULAR results? Not likely we will find that.

And still I think we should talk to a couple of other firms. Maybe to reduce potential buyer’s remorse if we go with the first firm. Maybe so we don’t feel we were fools if the engagement goes awry and we didn’t consider other firms. Maybe to learn a bit from firms #2 and #3 so we can clarify our requirements for the firm #1.

Maybe to get comfortable, like walking around the shoe store in a new pair of shoes to confirm they fit well. After all, we’re handing them “our baby;” we want them to take really good care of it.

Meanwhile, the guy at the first firm may be pulling his hair out. He’s saying, “We’re a good fit for you, we’ve handled all of your questions, so tell me when you’d like to start so I can introduce you to your team; if you want to launch the new things in January, we need to start now.”

But my head is in a different place, for which other questions might be appropriate, for example:

  • “What history do you have with buying services like these? How did those engagements go? What fears, concerns, or questions come to mind related to those engagements? How would you like to structure this engagement to incorporate the lessons you learned from the previous engagements with consultants?
  •  “What other decisions do you need to make inside the firm before you can address this decision to buy services from outside? What other steps do you need to take, internally? Walk through the sequence of issues or decisions with me.”

Those questions aren’t necessarily part of the “sales” process…. and they have everything to do with whether and how I’m able to buy.

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