Our research continues to reveal that they majority of buying teams making decisions on technology for their companies are inexperienced. These inexperienced buyers take longer to buy and find the experience more frustrating. They need help.
One of the simplest ways to offer help is through checklists. Checklists are simple organizational tools that inform, guide, and structure activities. Fans, like me, of “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” (side note: A perfect title) by Atul Gawande know that checklists don’t just help the inexperienced, they help experienced people to. Particularly in high stress situations (like maybe a big buying decision).
And we see that in our research. The better, more experienced buyers, are more likely to use checklists than the inexperienced buyers.
Regardless of who is using them today, there is a big opportunity for providers to help their customers and prospects by providing them with decision checklists. Some of the items on this list will be specific to the product or service offered or to the decision type (new, renew, expand, replace), but there may be some common things.
If I was building a checklist, here are my 4 must haves:
- Document and Prioritize the Goals (Desired Outcomes) for the Decision
- Confirm Agreement With the Goals Periodically (repeat this step multiple times throughout the process)-Agree on Changes
- Involve, Inform or Consult the Key Parties (those directly benefitting, those directly impacted, those whose assistance will be needed for success)
- Assess Potential Value (leveraging case studies, value assessment tools, calculators, diagnostics, etc.)
- Assess Ability to Achieve Potential Value (implementation guides and case studies, adoption guides, change management)
These five things will focus the buying effort, minimize surprises, and drive productive discussions and progress. There will be less surprises, less delays, and less revisiting of decisions. As a vendor, an understanding these elements (and guiding customers on how their most effective peers defined and completed these activities) will also help you focus your interactions and information sharing with the customer, helping you do less, but more impactful, things.
This approach forces, or more appropriately encourages, a level of discipline that many customers may not be comfortable with initially. But the effective buyers will embrace it and champions and change agents on ineffective teams can use this to get some control and sanity into the process.
So, get going, create, or co-create, these checklists with your customers. You’ll be glad you did.
The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.