alt text image of a spreadsheet with subjective scores as question marks

It’s Not On a Spreadsheet

Sales leaders are sometimes guilty of focusing on the wrong numbers. But our friends on the other side can be equally guilty of focusing on what they can easily count instead of what’s important.

Purchasing and professional buyers like to evaluate offerings on a spreadsheet. In the first column they list things they count and measure. Across the top row they list the different sales organizations competing for their business. They mistakenly believe that using objective factors makes their decision logical, rational, and unemotional.

But many of the most important things in relationships can’t be captured or evaluated on a spreadsheet, making spreadsheets an incomplete and problematic method for deciding on a partner. What’s missing from the spreadsheet is often more important in getting results than what is captured (and if it isn’t missing, it is subjective).

There isn’t a row on the spreadsheet for capturing how much the individual salespeople care about their prospective client and their business or how committed they will be in delivering. There is no score for trust, caring, or commitment. If there was a number, it would be subjective.

There isn’t a row for capturing how valuable are each of the competitor’s when it comes to generating valuable new ideas or their ability to exercise their resourcefulness on their client’s behalf. There is no score for initiative.

If the buying process resembles most commodity purchases, it’s doubtful that the buyer’s company had the experience of feeling what it was like to work with any of the salespeople or their company. Even if they did, it isn’t going to make the spreadsheet. Again, too subjective.

Price matters, and anyone who buys with no consideration of price at all is being foolish. But like most business decisions, the numbers only tell you part of the story. But it’s equally foolish to believe that price isn’t subjective.

You have to dig deeper. You have to look closer. You have to discern what isn’t going to show up on the spreadsheet to make a good decision. You are really making a hiring a decision. Good hiring decisions are about people. And, in the important purchases, good buying decisions are about people too.

What’s important is not always found on the spreadsheet.

If you’re in sales, you need to translate what’s not on the spreadsheet for professional buyers. You need to help them understand their real costs and their real risk in choosing a partner poorly.


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