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August 2, 2009

Bespoke Development Selection Criteria

This is a modest attempt to provide a guideline for bespoke application development selection criteria.
How often do you feel that you could have easily closed the last sales deed with a prospect ? Do you think you could have followed a different approach with the prospect…do you think that could have sealed the deal for you ?
Let us see what is it that prospects have in mind when they approach an outsourcing service provider situated thousands of miles away from them —
What types of clients approach an offshore team ?

There are different types of inquires that our sales team gets –

  • The prospects current development team is taking a long time to complete the development and that is driving the prospect nuts – either they do not have the technical expertise or they are simply dilly dallying the project.
  • The prospect is looking for developing a bespoke web application and has the specifications written very precisely.
  • The prospect knows what he wants from the application stand point but has no idea about writing specifications and preparing an RFP.

Selection Criteria
Prospects that fall in Category A are generally a nervous bunch. They have already burnt their fingers once and are terrified about having lost a lot of time and money on the project. These prospects are the most difficult to convince as they will think 100 times before taking a step.
Category B prospects are very focused about what they need and want – and unless they are convinced that they have found the right team – they will never move ahead.
Category C are the most vulnerable and are usually quite unaware of the web technologies and rarely make suggestions. But our experience shows that this bunch has done a lot of research on the cost of their application – and will be a reluctant bunch to convince about change requests and User Interface issues and technical problems.

How does the offshore team gain the confidence of the prospect ?
For any of the above Categories mentioned above – the person at the other end of the call speaking to a prospect needs to have technical knowledge. It is very unnerving for a prospect to talk to an entity whom the prospect thinks has lesser knowledge than he / she has.

It could be as unnerving as a patient being asked questions by his / her dentist about software development tools – imagine the situation with you being the dentist and the prospect as the patient ! Wouldn’t it be better to be asked questions about your general health by the dentist rather than software development – and when he / she knows that the patient cannot talk to him with his mouth wide open

Once the prospect is assured that he / she is dealing with a person who will understand their problems they are more comfortable.

Providing valid and strong references plays a very vital role in further gaining confidence. If the Prospect falls in Category B then he / she is probably technically adept and will ask a few juggling questions regarding the project to gauge the maturity of the organization.

Technical fluency and presentation plays an important role and nothing can be compared to that.
We cannot expect all the prospects to understand technology – if they did – there would be no place for Service Providers like us.

It is very helpful to converse regularly with the prospect and understand what approach they follow during the bidding process. A polite email is preferred but if that goes unanswered for more than 2 days then a phone call can be attempted.
Normally you are just one of the many shortlisted candidates / companies.
How should you differentiate yourself or your company?
Monetory factors could be one of the driving but not the most important factor affecting the decision for a prospect.

We have prepared a list based on the order of priority for selection –

  • Initial conversation with the Sales Team – If a prospect is comfortable with the Sales Team and generates a good rapport with him / her they are willing to proceed ahead.
  • Timeline to deliver
  • Cost Factor
  • Time to respond to prospects queries
  • Technical knowledge of the development team