The Sad Depressing State Of ERP Prospects

Click the image at left for a full sized version of an email that I just received not 10 minutes ago.  Here’s another from July 1, 2010 where the sender was kind enough to leave in the names of all the consultants that were emailed the RFP (Tip: Never think you’re the only one).

It illustrates part of that’s wrong with the ERP marketplace.

Don’t misunderstand me – it’s not that I think it’s wrong for a prospect to send around this email.

What saddens me is that the prospect likely has at least in part mis-diagnosed their needs —  and probably will receive two or three sight unseen quotes from other VARS.

13 Replies to “The Sad Depressing State Of ERP Prospects”

  1. Or the prospect may also have seen a demo done by someone and select the software and gotten a quotation, but now go price shopping. It has happen numerous times in my market place.

  2. Very relevant. We admittedly fell trap to a very similar situation. We learned one thing. Never again without commitment from the buyer. Commitment that they meet with us, that we understand the value equation and that we have an agreement upfront of what will happen when we meet. If they say “no”, then it was never real.

    1. Jim one of the big problems I have with the “get a commitment to meet” is that it all involves us providing services for free. It’s been my experience that until you turn the meter on somehow that almost all prospects will agree to anything — provided it’s free.

      Only when you tell the prospect/client that there’s a value (cost) associated do you start to separate the serious from the third bid collectors.

      Admittedly this is a really difficult thing to do. I’ve tried to keep initial meetings with existing users looking to switch VARS to an hour and avoid making any technical diagnosis.

      So far that works well and for us to move forward beyond the first hour we require a paid analysis.

      The problem is that new deals rarely want to pay for an analysis and in this environment where new license sales are harder to come by it’s very tempting to jump in the car and go begin the free initial review followed by the free demo and sometimes the free pilot. What irks me is the 60% of prospects who go that far and no decision or buy somewhere locally off a low quote.

  3. I would say that this email was not from a “prospect”. I would call them a “suspect”. Suspects are always treated like they are just window shopping. If they don’t want to come into my space, then I just wave goodbye to them and wish them well on their journey.

  4. Wayne thanks for posting this very relevant note. I think it underscores the “commoditization” of ERP in the mind of the buyer. The buyer does not know how to go about the process, and it is our job to paint a picture to appropriate prospects of a better approach to their business needs that will ultimately lead to a more successful implementation that solves problems and contributes to their business success.

    1. Sometimes when I look at these emails I think that VARS only reply to them because the market is so terrible. I think if there were more prospects out there to service that almost all consultants would laugh at these types of requests.

  5. I receive these types of emails every week or so in addition several telephone calls. The majority if not all are from prospects or existing users outside of the area we typically service.

    My standard response is to call Sage and find a reseller in your area.

    1. I definitely see the pace of these types of calls/emails picking up. In many instances I attribute the calls to consultants who have taken on a task of automating an existing client software without having the needed expertise.

      I think they get in over their heads and suddenly are looking for a lifeline — albeit one that will bill them at $20/hr so they can bill your time back at $135.

  6. I would also like to note that sales@keystonesoftware was referenced in the above link (Here’s another from July 1, 2010). However; we did not receive this email.

  7. Wayne, what are you talking about this is a “hot lead”! I bet they buy by the end of the week!

    Seriously, if it helps anyone, here is how I might reply.

    Dear -,

    Thanks for contacting me. I help folks like you all the time.

    However, what I have found is that often times when a prospective customer such as yourself comes forward with an already proposed solution, they are just price shopping. It is my experience that this tends to lead to a poor implementation.

    If I have misread your intent, I apologize. If you are interested in having a conversation about your needs, not about a proposed solution, I would be happy to speak with you further.

    VTY,
    Ed

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