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Understanding the mind games of PLM vendors


Don’t let features, gadgets and tricky sales techniques impress you – instead, ask for a product that actually solves your business challenges!

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine. He is director of Quality & Regulatory Assurance in a well-known medical device manufacturing company. His team deals with a wide variety of situations, but there is one task that sends a shiver down his team member’s spines. A cold call from a software salesperson. As a result, the team members quickly pass these calls along to my friend as fast as they can.

As a large medical device manufacturer, his company is an ideal target for such calls. They have a relatively big budget and a well-known name that, if associated with any enterprise software product, would help these vendors sell to other medical device companies. 

The biggest hope my friend has – other than a speedy recovery of the current situation we all are in – is that these salespeople someday will learn what a QA/RA manager really needs. In the meantime, here are a few tricks and mind games to be aware of that salespeople have tried on my friend and how you can react to them.


The cheap tricks a salesperson uses and how you can respond

One trick that really doesn’t work is neurolinguistic programming (NLP), or body-language mirroring. Once you catch that a salesman is using NLP, you can have a bit of fun with him. In a physical meeting or video conference call, try to work the salesman into the most unusual position or to get him to carry out the most ridiculous action. It starts simply. For example, if you lean forward and then back, or hook one arm over your head. With each silly position, if the salesman copies you, try to push it further. So far, my friend has not yet gotten a salesperson to stand on the table, but it might happen.

Another common trick that salespeople use is to continually repeat your name. My friend’s name is Adam: “So, Adam, I believe you can see the benefits of combining PDM and QMS, right Adam? And Adam, is it correctly understood that you would like to save time, right Adam? And are you interested in buying a solution that combines PDM and QMS capabilities, Adam?”

Of course, this is meant to make the salesperson feel more like a friend in the conversation, and my friend assumes the technique is working when he replies in kind with: “Well, John, I can see, John, that your product, John, is good. But John, we already have a similar solution in place, John, that works for us, John”.


Fear, uncertainty and doubt

And if they don’t use cheap psychological tricks, they try to use blatant propaganda. Every competitor is close to bankruptcy, has just lost a customer similar to your own company or has business ethics that is more corrupt than the devil itself.

Ask yourself: Would you buy a software solution for your enterprise if you were told that this particular software vendor was the only good thing that existed on the planet and all the rest were evil?


Be aware of offers you actually should refuse

History shows that many companies have not fully analyzed the depth and complexity of their business challenges. And the underlying problem with this sales approach is that vendors assume they know the company’s business challenges. So, most companies get to see a fantastic demo in a sales pitch without being fully equipped to ask the right questions.

With a focus on prioritized demands, these companies are at risk of ending up with a quick fix solution that might work well within the first year but is incapable of solving long-term challenges and support specific business-critical processes.


Put your money where your hype is

My friend’s humble wish to the industry is this: Present a solution with full transparency and a fair pricing model. No free keychains, no NLP tricks, no nonsense.

And do try to challenge us to ask you the right questions to identify every aspect and complexity of the business challenges, that we wish to solve and those challenges that will come down the road.

Any software vendor that is capable of doing this - puts its money where its hype is, should be rewarded with plenty of business.

About the author

Leon Lauritsen

Leon has worked with multiple IT systems from ERP to BI and PLM. His experience ranges all the way from programming to business consulting, project management and business development. Leon started his career in IT development and has further earned a diploma in IT and Economics at Copenhagen Business School and an Executive MBA at Henley Management College.  

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