How To Buy, How to Sell: Advice for Teams and Vendors

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I come across both teams and vendors in what I do; and, as a sales and marketing guy, I have a few opinions on selling. But the more I think about ideas surrounding selling, the more it informs my ideas about buying.

First off – a few words about Vendors…

Vendors often don’t seem to follow a set sales process in the sports industry, and in the tech space surrounding social media and mobile, pricing often borders on ridiculous. Vendors often look at teams as organizations with huge budgets – and they do – for players. Business operations is a different story… there are budgets and they are often tight. The lack of foresight among vendors regarding a team’s’ financial capabilities often simply frustrates the buyer and can chill an opportunity or be lost to a competitor real quick. Teams see through these prices and will forge for lower until they get it.  The days of “shiny newness” regarding social and mobile are gone – the “must have” factor is always trumped by ROI eventually. Many of these buys are strategic, and when vendors employ a transactional process (in light of any process at all), price will always be the determining factor.

Some thoughts about Teams…

Many teams will look to leverage themselves as a point of entry to a vendor. The thinking goes a lot like, “If you give this to us for free, then everyone will come asking where we got this. We’re really helping you create business here…”. This makes sense internally; and to be honest, referrals drive the way almost anything happens in the sports business. But this kind of position just doesn’t hold water. Imagine if I went to my local grocery store with, “I’d like you to give me this food for free – I’m an amazing cook and everyone who eats my food will be asking where I got this from. I’m really bringing you a lot of business here…”. [Insert sound effect here] “Umm – Clean up in aisle 4”

Teams believe that a number of vendors will bend over completely backwards for the chance to work with them – but unless it makes business sense, they simply won’t/can’t.

Obviously, there are a number of other facets and factors involved in these complex sales – too much to tackle in a single blog post.

At the end of the day, this back and forth is frustrating and time-consuming for all involved. Vendors need to better understand how teams buy anything – how their budgets are structured, how does the product/service fit an overall strategy, how can they make the buying process easier? Teams need to consider how the vendor’s product/service meets their requirements, strategy and their ROI. If discussions start from a place such as this, both parties are off on the right foot…

What are your thoughts?

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