What to do when I know we don't fit the current requirements?

Ben Fleishman
Ben Fleishman Member [Connect] Posts: 10

There is a deal that we're working on right now that I know we don't meet all of the requirements they've listed. My team has been very upfront with them about this and I have gone so far as to state it explicitly.

But the customer is adamant that we're the right solution and continue to press us on wanting to work with us. We fit most of the requirements, but I know it's not the perfect solution.

How should I handle this? How would you handle it? Thank you in advance!


  • Patrick McLoughlin
    Patrick McLoughlin Member [Plus] Posts: 14

    Ben first of all I applaud you for being forthright with your solution. I find it interesting that even after you have communicated this the customer still believes you are the correct vendor. Elite salespeople influence customer decision criteria. Is there an opportunity to having the customer RANK and WEIGHT the Decision Criteria. Once completed you may get a better picture of what is the outcome the customer desires and what is needed to achieve those results. Can you separate what are the 'got to have's" and what are the "nice to have's) in the solution. This could explain what the customer is thinking.

  • Tim Caito
    Tim Caito Guest Posts: 10

    I completely agree with Patrick's points here! One additional thing to keep in mind. It's always about your fit with the Decision Criteria themselves, but it's also about your fit relative to their most likely alternative (aka your competitor). You may not be able to address a couple of the low priority Decision Criteria. But playing off of Patrick's thought, perhaps you fit the highest priority Decision Criteria far better than their alternative, which is why the customer is pushing hard for you to keep going.

    Now lastly, remember two additional things.

    1) Acceptable Gaps that look manageable during the Decision Process can become a bigger concern for the users after the purchase in the implementation. If this deal goes forward, I strongly suggest you help your customer assess the impact of those missing DC mid & long-term. Don't assume the buyer will remember your transparency 6 months after the sale. You need to have an agreed upon plan for how those gaps will eventually be addressed or worked around.

    2) Those acceptable gaps can easily turn into wedge issues in a few months for your competitor if they are left unaddressed. All the more reason to address the mid & long-term remediation plan now. Head the competitor's follow up strategy off at the pass so it lands harmlessly with a big thud!

    Good luck and keep us all posted on how this plays out.

  • Ben Fleishman
    Ben Fleishman Member [Connect] Posts: 10

    @Patrick McLoughlin & @Tim Caito thank you so much! This is great stuff. I'm worked with my team member and suggested that we do this. I'll be sure to come back and let you all know how it works out. Thanks again!

  • Ralston McCracken
    Ralston McCracken Member [Plus] Posts: 4

    To add to the two great approaches outlined above by @Patrick McLoughlin and @Tim Caito:

    Once the stack-ranked list of Decision Criteria has been built out with the customer, I strongly recommend documenting which Criteria you can meet and also those that your solution cannot meet. This should help to avoid a subsequent post-implementation situation where the customer reverts with something like "But I assumed that you COULD match those Criteria" or "I didn't know that you could NOT do that". We need to build, protect and maintain a long-term relationship with all customers, to enable recurring revenue. We also want to create Proof Points, via strong reference customers, that can be leveraged in other deals. Last of all, we would not want to damage our own credibility and reputation in the marketplace by trying to over-reach in meeting customers' requirements and then failing - which could provide ammunition to our (disparaging) competitors: "You can't trust Acme, as they claim they can do EVERYTHING!"

  • Ben Fleishman
    Ben Fleishman Member [Connect] Posts: 10

    Thank you, @Ralston McCracken! That's a great idea!

  • David Chimenti
    David Chimenti Member [Pro] Posts: 38

    Kudos on the integrity and it’s probably helping you a lot in this situation. Indifference drives people nuts and I’m not sure how well you know you’re competition but they may get the feeling you’re the only one being honest with them. Great advice from all above

  • Timmy Cotton
    Timmy Cotton Member [Custom Team] Posts: 11

    Deals where you don't meet the requirements but still have a client interested can be hard to manage. It makes sense to emphasize strengths, honesty, and value in your approach. It's important to keep in mind that relationships and understanding one another are very important. Building trust and creating the conditions for productive partnerships can be accomplished by showing your commitment to problem-solving and providing value for one another, even in difficult times.

  • Joe Huber
    Joe Huber Member [Pro], Administrator Posts: 163

    @Timmy Cotton Great point! It matches what @Dawn Collins & @Tim Caito recently said in one of our Ascender Events. It boils down to "Trust is reliability". If you can find a way to be reliable and do what you say, you build that trust.

    In a situation like this, solving the problems and laying things out like Tim and @Patrick McLoughlin did, you're able to stay firmly in the consultant role while building faith in you and your team.

  • Julie Brence
    Julie Brence Member [Custom Team] Posts: 10

    An honest conversation with your business team AND the consumer about where these requirements lie on the meeting needs scale is important. If we don't meet all of the needs of a customer, that can sometimes be okay, but also can conflict with future needs from this customer and can potentially lose that sale and relationship. Building customer relationships and trust can help overcome the needs conflict with the customer, but also maybe directing the customer to a different product or a sister company may overall better the consumer relationship that builds to your company as well.

  • Ben Fleishman
    Ben Fleishman Member [Connect] Posts: 10

    @Julie Brence & @Timmy Cotton Good points to bring up! Thanks!

  • Devin Teal
    Devin Teal Member [Custom Team] Posts: 9

    It was very important that you first communicated with your customer that you did not meet all of the requirements they listed. As Julie said, it's okay to still work with them, but can run into some issues in the future. You and your company meet most but not all requirements. In the end, if you are not comfortable working with them maybe a recommendation to a better fitting company would be best.

  • Cole zacharias
    Cole zacharias Member [Custom Team] Posts: 5

    You must be upfront with your customers and appears you have done that, next is to try to work around not having all the benefits that you could provide and make a plan to ensure the customer gets what they need from you and so that you can have a mutual relationship.

  • Landon Ellis
    Landon Ellis Member [Custom Team] Posts: 10

    Being transparent with the client is always step one. There are many people in our line of work who would continue to push on and not reiterate to their clients that they do not meet the complete requirements they have set forth. My experience at an IT and Cloud Consulting firm taught me that many engineers can wear different hats. This could be an excellent opportunity for you and your firm to expand your repertoire.

  • Tori King
    Tori King Member [Custom Team] Posts: 5

    You should have an open and honest converstation if you do not meet the requirements. Not meeting the requirements could mean you could lose the relationship you have. I would set clear goals for yourself and come up with a plan.

  • Gavin Weitendorf
    Gavin Weitendorf Member [Custom Team] Posts: 10

    I would have an open conversation with my team and the customer. Explaining precisely what I can do and what I cannot do. I would give the customer a chance to tell me what they want, and I would do my best to find someone qualified, and then I would complete the job.

  • Emily Erickson
    Emily Erickson Member [Custom Team] Posts: 11

    Honesty and transparency will always serve anyone well, in any situation. It is more respectable to be upfront with the customer and be honest as to what went well and what could have been better.