By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Companies selling complex offerings are challenged to help sellers relate to executive buyers. If they are unsuccessful, decisions are often made by lower levels. I’d like to offer an analogy for your consideration.
Let’s assume in preparing for a Grand Prix racing season a driver with minimal experience is hired and the most critical decision looms: Choosing a car. In light of his limited experience, the driver defers to the pit crew to make the decision. They are virtually certain to have biases. Understanding they are primarily measured on “up time” of cars, including the time needed for pit stops and repairs, it’s likely they’ll choose a car that is reliable, easy to work on and one they have prior experience with. Cars failing to meet these criteria will not make the “short list.”
In allowing the decision to be made in this way, the pit crew has failed to consider the driver’s main criteria: Acceleration, braking distances, top speed and handling. Allowing the pit crew to choose the car will likely mean being able to finish a higher percentage of races, but would compromise the ultimate probability of winning races.
On the other hand, if a driver chooses a car solely on performance without regard for reliability, he would be more likely to lead during early laps but finish fewer races because the car was pushing the limits and prone to breaking down. As with most things in life, there should be a compromise between the driver and pit crew requirements to arrive at an optimal decision.
In my mind, this analogy describes the roles of executives (drivers) and pit crews (IT) in making enterprise technology decisions. When sellers don’t relate to executives to allow them to have input into the business drivers and have a conceptual idea of how they can be achieved, decisions are often delegated to IT. Their biases will include how easily the new offering can be integrated into their existing architecture, how familiar the staff is with a given offering, how difficult the implementation will be, etc.
IT will always do the “heavy lifting” in evaluating offerings. The challenge is for vendors to empower sellers to bring executive business issues and results into play so that better buying decisions can be made.