3 Traits of the Perfect ERP Sales Lead

As a salesperson, I speak with prospective customers every day to try and understand their wholesale inventory software needs to determine whether or not our solution would be a good fit.  Based on the industry they are in, features they are looking for, budget and business processes, it is easy to determine fit after only a 10-15 minute discussion.  As a software vendor, however, I am also looking for certain characteristics of the companies I speak with that would also make them great to work with.  Just like companies evaluate vendors, vendors also evaluate companies and there are certain traits that make for the “perfect ERP sales lead”.  These traits usually imply that a company is looking to build a long-term relationship with their ERP vendor, are open to improving processes and believe in the power of software to help them do so. They see implementing software as a strategic investment and not a necessary evil. Below I have compiled a list of the most important traits that I watch out for, and based on my experience, having these traits plays a significant role in the benefits gleaned from implementing new software.

The best ERP sales leads…

Are not limited by budgets and timeframes that are set in stone.  I know what you’re thinking - of course an ERP software vendor would love for all customers to have open wallets, and that salespeople all have dollar signs in their eyes, but this is not always the case. When it comes to a project as significant as finding new ERP software, it is important to have a budget in place and to understand what your company can afford.  But even more important is making sure that you’re finding the best solution for your company and not missing out on opportunities because of a budget.  Smart and innovative companies recognize that there are a lot of unknowns when first establishing project plans, budgets and speaking with vendors.  Having some flexibility when it comes to ERP software costs is important to significantly improve business processes and find the right software for your company.  This is why costs should only be one of several factors that affect your decision, and not the end-all, be-all. In addition, having a hard timeframe could lead to a rushed implementation in which case you don’t spend the time properly evaluating software fit and function.

Are open to listening to ERP vendors for suggestions on best practises and as a result are also open to changing their processes. Implementing ERP software is the perfect time to evaluate your processes and look for new opportunities.  Continuing to perform tasks in a similar way because that is the way things have always been done, prevents your business from taking full advantage of implementing new software.  Keep in mind that when working with software vendors who have experience in specific industries they will be able to provide you with insight into what other companies are doing and ways they have improved their processes.  These types of business best practises and competitive advantages would be hard to get on your own unless your competitors are very friendly.  This is not to be confused with software vendors giving away their customer’s secrets, but rather recognizing certain benefits that their customers have gleaned that can be applied to other similar businesses as well. What is important here is to work with a vendor that you feel you can trust to provide guidance on business improvements.  Your ERP vendor should become a respected business advisor as their software is designed to help control how you run and manage your business and processes. This relationship should be a partnership that involves participation from both parties.

Have a plan in place for making a decision. Not having a rigid timeframe does not mean that you shouldn't have a plan in place for implementing software.  It is important that you have laid out a process with your team for how you will make a decision, who will be involved, and when you will make a decision.  Sticking with a plan means that the search remains a priority and allows for the right decision to be made.

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