Does Your IT Buying Team Have a Strong Defense?

By Rich Staas

Director of Client Services, NPI

September 28, 2016

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Artwork Courtesy of @iStock.com/IvelinRadkov

We talk a lot about IT buyer “team alignment” on this blog, and its role in complex IT negotiations (here’s another good post on the topic). It’s critical for determining purchase requirements from different stakeholders across the business – procurement, IT, financial, etc.

It’s also one of the best defense strategies in your negotiation playbook.

IT vendors are highly trained in the art of sales and use many tactics to attempt to get information and assess deal risk. Among them are:

  • IT Vendors will assign their resources to different personnel within your organization and may ask similar questions to each to see if responses vary or to gain information. We recently reviewed an SAP purchase where the vendor assigned an account executive to contact one team member, a regional sales manager to contact another and a VP of sales to contact another. In each case, the vendor asked almost identical questions and requests – then went back to compare answers and identify points of leverage. This is why we advocate that buying teams “stay on script” as they deal with vendors during negotiation.
  • Vendors would much rather speak with someone within your organization that has an emotional investment in the purchase. And they’re really good at sniffing them out. Make sure to identify these members of your team and have them either “go dark” or limit conversations to things other than negotiation topics.
  • What seems like “water cooler” conversation may be to extract information regarding your intentions or decision status. All team members need to be wary of these potential interactions when entering into any discussions. It’s a sure way to concede leverage, lose concessions and spend more than you need to!

Achieving best-in-class pricing and terms takes sophistication, orchestration and a healthy dose of spirited team defensive plays. Any less quite literally comes at a price.