I've written about this before, but some recent briefings inspired me (as well as Jason and Peter) to revisit the topic and share some of our insights and opinions on how solution providers can be more effective and productive when briefing us at Spend Matters.
Don't be trite – understand that all of us in analyst positions at Spend Matters have been in the space since it started in the 90s. We typically understand the why, so there's no need to preach to the choir about how using your supply chain solution is better than the old-school alternative. It's not that you can't mention the why, but all too many providers need to focus more on the how – especially the differentiators (next point, below).
Be different – let's face it, all providers have a sweet spot client, or at least you should have identified one by now. If you claim that every organization out there (regardless of size, organizational complexity, global footprint, categories purchased, industry verticals, etc.) derives the same benefits from your solution, then you can count us among the skeptical. It is more than OK to be different. And please show us how your functionality is different – no need to focus on what is available in all apps out there.
Be modest – at least a little bit. Call us cynical, but if all "the leading providers" that we get briefings from are truly leading, can you at least admit to being "a leading provider"? Sure, go ahead and boast about your differentiators since "it ain't braggin' if you done it," as the saying goes. That said, please be humble enough to admit that even you need an air freshener in your bathroom (only buyers never need air fresheners...) and that some of your features might not work that well, be clumsily designed, of limited use, or simply poorly implemented by the SIs involved – or all of the above. It's acceptable to not be perfect, and trust us: we realize this. We have seen hundreds of apps, and we're rarely interested in writing about what doesn't work (except when we gripe about Delta.com). We prefer to write about what you do well!
Let us be inquisitive – if you have an interesting solution, and we have a great discussion about a use case, challenge, success or whatever – let's run that through. We can always set up another call to see what was missed. We're not buyers who have to allocate exactly the same time to all RFP respondents out of some sense of fairness. With Spend Matters, you need to keep us amused, intrigued, and inspired above all else – we love industry color and insights during demos. This is how you build a great relationship with us.
Bring your seasoned team – there's absolutely nothing wrong with having junior talent sitting in on demos. Just realize that we can smell junior a mile away. Junior might be a whiz at running through a PowerPoint stack but probably can't provide the industry insights, business strategy commentary, and the other color we like to hear around companies and solutions. Also, you shoot yourselves in the foot by not developing the relationship with us that make you our go-to person when we get interesting requests from practitioners, VCs, and even head hunters.
As we mentioned in the first paragraph, we're on quite a roll with this topic right now. Here are a few stories (from all of us) that you shouldn't miss: