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Issue of October 2006 

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Users look for honesty and transparency

New research from Ovum reveals that software vendors must change their pushy sales techniques as users need a more open attitude. Ovum advises vendors to adopt an approach based on helping end-user organisations to buy and create simple, clear and fair pricing.

“After our research note at the end of last year, Software sales: crossroads blues or wonderful life, we received a litany of emotional responses about sales tactics and how they had been used for revenue extraction,” said David Mitchell, Software Practice Leader, Ovum.

He added, “We decided that further research was needed with end-customers, but focussing on the question: ‘what should vendors do to make a better job of selling to you.’”

After interviewing senior ‘technical buyers’ within 40 end-user organisations in North America, Europe, Middle-East, Africa and Australia, it was apparent that end-user organisations are becoming immune to the sales tactics of vendors, the adoption of sales methodologies, and the introduction of ‘solution sales speak’ in their organisations.

Vendors and sales gurus develop ever more sophisticated sales approaches, while end-users and procurement gurus develop ever stronger defence mechanisms.

Ovum found that several phrases commonly used by vendor organisations cause an immediate and adverse reaction within some end-user organisations—“sales cycle,” “owning the customer,” “solution selling” and “value proposition” are among the trigger phrases.

One surprisingly common complaint was that the sales staff from vendor organisations did not understand the functionality of the products that they were selling. In some cases, the technical staff at the customer end were more aware of the latest product features and functions than the sales staff.

Vendors also had a tendency to be “economical with the truth” regarding the ability of their products to deliver specific functionality. Finally, respect for ethical standards was an important factor in how vendors were viewed by the majority of the end-users that were interviewed.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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