Buy from a consultant, not a salesperson.
I hate it when companies are over-sold by a salesperson. In my experience, one of the most guaranteed ways to buy more than you need is to pay for an expensive discovery report before you buy Dynamics GP.
I just met with a distribution company using Microsoft Dynamics GP. They had paid $12,000 to a large Dynamics GP partner for a “business analysis”. I saw a copy of the report. I was not impressed. Now, almost 2 years later this company is way over budget and they are still not where they should be at this point.
Sometimes I think that companies use these expensive ERP discovery studies to create a kind of precaution mechanism for themselves. Then they can say, “Hey, we did the due diligence, we paid them $12,000.00 to understand our business and this is what they came back with. They must be right. And if they are not, it’s not my fault. They recommended it, not me.”
You can’t always trust “the experts”
I’ve made this mistake in my own life. When we built our house we admitted that we didn’t know anything about landscaping. So we paid a landscape consultant $1000 to evaluate our yard, gave us a plan and tell us what to buy. He was the expert, we trusted him.
We went to the nursery that he worked for and bought everything he recommended and planted it without question. Four years later, when the plants were grown, we had twice as many as we needed.
It may seem like a weird example, but the point is that oftentimes when you pay “the experts” to tell you what to buy you end up with more than you need because you don’t question them. If you do question them, then you feel like a fool for paying their fee. And nobody wants to feel like a fool.
What I needed was someone who understood my goals and would explain to me that I didn’t need to buy so much because even though it would look sparse in the beginning, it was going to grow and fill out. I wanted a consultant, but he turned out to be just a salesperson.
This happens all the time in the ERP industry and the stakes are much higher.
We implemented Microsoft Dynamics GP for a similar company in the same distribution industry as the company I mentioned earlier. We did do a discovery process but certainly not a full “sales study” at a ridiculous cost. We met with them, we tried to understand their business, we came up with products that would fit and we didn’t over-sell anything. They said they needed EDI and we said they should wait on that and not make the decision until later because their needs could change. Six months down the road their needs were different and we chose a different EDI vendor than they originally considered.
You need someone with an understanding of what the product can do and an understanding of your industry. Have them look at what you are doing today, what you want to do, and where you have issues. That type of discovery shouldn’t take more than $2,000.00 or $3,000.00 worth of time.
Beware of being oversold
These $12,000.00 discoveries, in many cases are just a way for the Dynamics GP partner to sell you more than you need. Because of course, if they keep digging they can come up with all kinds of things that could be fixed by technology. But are all those things really necessary to your business?
It’s kind of like going to the doctor and letting him dig around. He can come up with huge list of problems you could fix. You “follow doctor’s orders” and do everything he says. Each specialist he sends you to finds something that he specializes in and they all make tons of money. But in reality, you probably would be totally fine never fixing most of those issues, because nobody is perfect. Or you could have treated them in phases or on your own without a specialist.
One company we now work with was told they needed to buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Then they paid more for an interface to connect Dynamics CRM to Dynamics GP. It turns out the only reason they use Dynamics CRM is so that they can enter quotes. In fact, they can do quotes just fine in Dynamics GP. They should never have been sold Dynamics CRM. But “an expert”, in this case a very large national Microsoft partner, did a very expensive Discovery Study for them and recommended it to them.
I guess the expert really wanted to sell Dynamics CRM licenses.
Get more than a sales pitch
When you think about it, a lot of the salespeople who sell software don’t even know the product; they just know how to sell. They bring in a technical person to actually demo the product. How can somebody like that know the best solution for your business? You should be comfortable that you’re not being sold, you’re being educated; you’re being shown why this is going to make a difference to your business.
I think it comes down to this: if the person you’re talking to feels more like a car salesman than a consultant, get a second opinion. You need to feel that the person that you’re dealing with has your best interest in mind and is showing you solutions that match your end goal, not just your current problem. You need somebody who is able to explain clearly how you will get to your goal, not just sell you “a bunch of plants for your garden”.
If you’re going to buy a new ERP system, buy it from someone you feel is a consultant, not a salesperson.
By George Mackiewicz, Owner, CAL Business Solutions, Connecticut Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner
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