Thursday, August 23, 2012

Some People Still Get It, How To Let Vendors Down The Right Way

I know that this will come as a surprise to many of you, but I don't win every deal I'm in. I know, take a moment to let that sink in...

Well, not quite, I guess...
Last week, we lost a deal that we had invested a significant amount of time in. There were multiple onsite visits (involving Ektron resources from all over the country), custom proof of concept development, involvement by the Ektron product development team, executive team, and more. And we did everything as well as it could be done.

But we lost.

And that's ok.

Don't take that the wrong way, I hate losing. And after this effort, I am disappointed that we weren't selected. However, two things happened that made it a little less painful.

First, the CIO, whom I greatly respect, took the time to call and explain their decision. He explained their process, where they saw differences among the solutions, and what was most important to them.

He then let me ask a bunch of questions and gave me candid answers. We talked for almost thirty minutes and I felt like we got an "exit interview" so to speak. Even though we lost, we were able to learn some things that perhaps we'll do a bit differently next time.

Then, I got a call this week from their Web Manager. She knew that the CIO had already called and told me that we'd lost. She didn't have to call.

But she did.

And she expressed her gratitude to our team for the effort put forth. She praised us (without going over the top) and provided some additional detail around their decision. 

She didn't have to call me.

But she did.

I guess my point is that I don't mind losing -- I don't like it, but I understand that our solution isn't the right fit for every engagement. Getting these two calls provided helpful feedback and while I don't blame prospects that don't want to call each vendor to explain their decision, that approach doesn't provide vendors with any feedback as to what they could have done differently to present themselves more effectively, or how their product could be improved to have been a better fit.

If nothing else, they gave us a chance to answer the question "why not us", and there is value in that. These are good people, and people that clearly "get it". We may not have won this engagement, but I won't hesitate to try and work with them again if the opportunity presents itself.

And should the selected solution not work out, I'll be ready...

I wanted to add a link to a partner colleague of mine, Deane Barker, who maintains a blog at Deane saw this post and wrote a complementary post that is definitely worth a read. Enjoy: What You Owe Vendors Who Respond to Your RFP

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