Discovery Isn't Part of the Buying Process

One of the things that I notice talking to companies about their websites is that more and more companies are trying to push the discovery process into their buying process.  Most of you probably know my aversion to the whole RFP process to start with, and if you don’t I go into a little more detail in my post Is Your Website RFP Hurting You?, but regardless of whether you use an RFP or not you should be driven to ask questions that find the best vendor and not ask questions that should be left for discovery.

Discovery is going to be the first stage of your project, and at LightSky this is sometimes the biggest stage.  We want to learn about you, your organization, your goals, your processes, your successes and your failures, and your expectations, and because of this we often spend a great deal of time hashing these things out in discovery.  Discovery isn’t free though, and if you are getting free discovery from companies bidding on your project during the buying process you should take it with a grain of salt. 

Discovery Costs Money

We all know that sales is a numbers game, and because of that in every industry only a limited amount of time can be spend in the proposal process for new business.  Once the project starts though, your agencies resources become unequivocally at your disposal, and this is where discovery happens.  Working with the designer, developers, project managers, and marketers that your firm brings to the table is a huge part of your project.  But it is unrealistic to expect these resources to be completely used when working through a proposal process where you are competing against 3 or 4 other firms.  It is almost gambling when firms enter competitive bidding, and in competitive bidding you have to be careful to not go bankrupt trying to win business.  Because of this, true discovery needs to be left for the project, and not the purchase.  The old adage of free information is worth what you paid for it often holds true. 

Consultative Selling has Buyer Benefits

Consultative selling is a very common practice in several different types of businesses, and there is no doubt that it is effective.  There is a difference though between what is offered in a consultative selling situation and what is given in discovery.  Consultative selling shows broad benefits for broad changes.  For example consultative selling might discuss how social media can have a huge impact on your business, and notice that your business isn’t using it very much.  This isn’t going to be an exact step by step analysis of how to use social media, and a plan for what your business should do.  That step is for discovery, and has to take in more about your organization than can be quickly surmised in the buying process.

Stay tuned for the next two installments in our buying series, 5 Things to Ask During the Website Buying Process, and 5 Things to not Ask During the Website Buying Process.