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Revisiting the Revisiting of ShortLists

By Hank Barnes | June 01, 2021 | 0 Comments


In early 2019, I shared a post with data from one of our buying studies that revealed that 90% of companies make changes to their shortlists during buying efforts fairly often.  Well, we repeated that question in our latest buying study–with quite similar results.  To be clear, the guidance was related to “adding additional vendors to a shortlist after it has been created” not reducing the shortlist further.

With many more responses (1495), we discovered the number of companies making changes to their shortlists rose t0 98%, with 76% making changes more than half the time.

This data continues to reinforce both the fluidity of buying efforts and the difficulty companies face in those efforts.   Companies are still learning how to buy.   The top 3 reasons for adding vendors to a shortlist were:

  • Issues with all of the vendors on the original shortlist (49%)
  • Mandated by procurement policy (49%)
  • Discovering a new vendor that had not been considered previously (47%)

Recommendations from others, both influencers and peers, made up the next tier, both around 40%.

The reasons for the shortlist additions reflect different scenarios, ranging from learning new things and  discovering rules (that maybe should have been known).  But most of these can also be seen as impacting confidence—when buying teams discover they have “missed something,” it erodes confidence.   Vendors need to work to rebuild that.

But it also is a message to all vendors.  If you make it to a shortlist, there is still work to be done, and not just versus the others that also made it.  That list might change.  And, if you aren’t on a shortlist, and are a newer vendor developing awareness, there is still hope.  Just make sure the targeted company fits your ideal customer profile and you are prepared to address more detailed questions (as any buying team that gets to the shortlist should have some clarity about what they are looking for).

The shortlist isn’t what it used to be.   Make sure you don’t pretend it is.

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