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Sole Source vs. Last Look

STOP telling your team to ask for last look!
INSTEAD have them work to be the sole source.

I was in a sales meeting where a manager was telling the team “make sure you ask for last look when you’re going to send out a proposal.”

After the meeting, I asked if we could talk:

Lynn “why last look?”
Sales Manager “so we can go back in and make sure we win.”
Lynn “what if instead you found out what it would take to be their sole source from the beginning?”
Sales Manager “ummmmmmmmm”

We of kept talking to find out when the idea of competition came into the deal – in relationship to when the salesperson found out about the business opportunity.

  1. when they found it: as in, the project has been already been developed… the salesperson is asked to quote. Yup, you ARE the competition not their vendor of choice.
  2. at the beginning: the salesperson asks how the purchase will be made early on! YIPPEE they’re on the right track to have what’s needed to know to create a sole source justification.
  3. early on: they do a great job qualifying what the purchasing process looks like. Again you’re on your way to understanding what it will take to earn that sole source justification.
  4. somewhere in the middle: pat the salesperson on the back – they’re qualifying as they go along. You still have time to be their only choice.
  5. near the end: they say “well of course we have to get 3 bids” or some such thing, you are probably being told you aren’t considered as valuable as you’d like.
  6. when it already went to purchasing: too late… the deal roulette ball is already spinning, you have no way to control where it will land.

Please include how your prospects and customer buy, from an internal purchasing process perspective, as part of the qualification process… the earlier the better (maybe even before there is a deal on the table, but I digress…).

Part of that process qualification needs to include a conversation about sole source.

sole source
if this is a new idea to you here are some of the reason people can say there is no competition available (of course the specifics are organization based):

  • the item or service is ONLY available from you
  • there is something that makes what they’re purchasing unique (think compatibility, one particular feature, etc)
  • you have expertise linked to the outcome that is needed (knowledge, responsiveness, experience, prior work on an earlier phase)
  • timing is more important than low price: there is an impact if deadline/dates are not met
  • the competition is determined inadequate after going out to several sources

As the sales manager and leader: it’s your responsibility to figure out how you could/would fit into something that creates a sole source scenario – train your salespeople to exploit your uniqueness to make it simple for your prospects and customers to write up their justification!

That way you don’t need last look – you’re the ONLY look, there is no competition.

please note: if your prospects and customers are public sector: google the agency/organization name with “sole source purchase justification” and you’ll probably find their specific rules, or ask for them.

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