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Platforms - Getting the best out of your buying process

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

In this article I’ll cover some of the common processes used by buyers within the maritime ecosystem of platforms to reach a decision that’s best for the business.


Introduction


It’s a dance as old as time (or at least the 15 years since B2B platforms became commonplace…), you speak with a sales rep, you have a demonstration, you trial the solution for a week or two, then you progress. It’s a process ingrained so firmly in the sales/buying processes that it’s almost sacrosanct to question – but is it the most effective way to make a purchasing decision?

In short, maybe.


When we split this process out into its component parts, you can see where the challenges arise:


Speaking to the sales rep

Overall, this experience massively varies on the ability of the sales rep to identify and understand the needs of your business. There are certainly many high-calibre sales reps, but your business is your own, and quite often has a unique set of specific challenges to contend with. This part of the process is quite often make-or-break for progress of a particular platform, and while first impressions absolutely matter, it’s possible that the best solution for your business is discarded based on a single call.


It is also worthwhile being upfront on the timelines of your business here. Sales teams are trained to set timelines/deadlines, and if they don’t align to yours this is a recipe for a succession of ‘just following up’ calls which aid precisely no one.


Have a demonstration

If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. By and large this process is hugely useful for both parties, the suppliers gain a better understanding of how you’d utilise the platform, and you get a feel for what the platform would be like in action alongside a basic insight into the data available and how it matches your requirement.

The most important part of this process is for both parties is to ensure that the right people attend (typically those who will be using the platform!), and to ensure that they have a full understanding of the platform before the trial begins.


At this point it’s also a time to get a deeper understanding of the data, so as to be sure the platform is displaying intelligence you can trust. You can see here our article on some of the common metrics for data used across the maritime ecosystem.


A quick tip here would be to come prepared with a live or recent example you can corroborate, to avoid the pristine examples you will otherwise be shown in a demonstration.



Trial

Absolutely the most important part of this process, the time in which you get to understand how this platform will work in real-time, live situations – also the time in which the process most often elongates, breaks down, or grinds to a halt completely.

The simple truth is that humans need time to change behaviours and form habits, so asking someone to change their day-to-day processes is a challenge. Many suppliers will cap trials at one or two weeks, and in this time it’s highly likely that the platform will be used a few times, and then old habits return.

There are a couple of simple things you can do to counter this and maximise the time of your trial.


· The first and simplest is to nominate champions within your business to take ownership of the trial and report back to leadership on the efficacy of the platform. Good sales reps will ask for this as part of the process, but not everyone will.


· The second, links back to the first article in this series, which is setting clear goals. Understand exactly what you need to see to deliver the appropriate ROI and measure your experience against that.


· Third, be sure to test the customer service. Submit a support request or contact their customer success team with a request. This enables you to head into any potential future commercial relationship with open eyes about what to expect moving forwards.



At this point, you should find yourself in a position to make a strong judgement call on which of the trialled platforms is best suited for your needs and will proceed to the negotiation and purchase stage.

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