Decision Criteria

It may seem a strange thing to say but very often, companies don’t sit down and make rational decisions and say what is the criteria they will use for purchasing a solution.

It’s easy to work with prospects and have great conversations with them but when you get to the end of the process they can have a reluctance to make a decision. Sometimes this is because they haven’t set out the criteria for making a decision. 

Criteria could be suggested by you. Simply by asking them. “Okay, so how are you going to make a decision? What are your criteria for success of this project?.” 

Typical success criteria, (i.e., decision criteria) are based on what was discussed during the discovery phase. Bear in mind this may get more involved as you progress into the sales process – the prospect may come up with new criteria, partly because they’ve learned more from you, but also because others in their organization got involved. So, for example, security issues, data management issues et cetera may come up that were not there at the discovery phase. 

Confusing implementation issues and decision issues is very common. If the client is at let’s call it “position A” and a new position with your solution in place is “position B”. You need to focus the decision criteria on B as opposed to how are we going to get from A to B. Later in the sales process, once the decision to go with you is made the implementation issues (how we get from A to B) need of course to be addressed, but they need to be addressed separately from the new state (B) itself.

Amplifying Factors Decision Process Decision Maker Champion

Further reading :


The Decision Process: Everything You Need to Know to Sell More

Understanding Buyer Decision Criteria

RED – Decision criteria unknown

This is common. The prospect hasn’t sat down and decided how are they going to choose one vendor over another. You need to suggest ideas to help shape prospect’s thinking.

AMBER – Decision criteria indicated

This is good because they at least are thinking that they need to make a rational decision. You should try to feed into that decision.

Green – Decision criteria confirmed

The assumption here is that they are confirmed and shared. It would be unusual if they didn’t share with you what are their decision criteria. This would normally be a concern if they don’t. They are asking you to invest time and effort so it’s appropriate for you to ask why. Assuming they have shared these with you and you can make sure these are foremost in your head throughout the entire process.

Mitigations – What to Do?

Your discovery is effectively giving you the decision criteria. If you understand their pains or needs the business consequences and some metrics can be reworked to suggest to the customer that these should be their decision criteria.

Make sure that some element of differentiated value is incorporated into your suggested decision criteria for them so that it won’t help them to simply pick a solution that is good enough.

If the client gives you a set of decision criteria or shares in which you in some form, make sure you take careful note of these and work all of your presentations around those criteria. Expect that some of these will be intangibles such as the impact on productivity and make sure that you’re able to give tangible evidence that you can address all of these criteria.

Contracting and legal elements can come into play in terms of decision criteria. Some companies are for example of a policy of only signing one-year contracts so your willingness to accommodate that will be important, so be careful to make sure that you are willing and able to accommodate the prospect in that regard.

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