Note: This article is about  Solution Match 2021, MSDW's new virtual event on September 14 & 15

 For Microsoft Dynamics users, the tools for checking out possible new add-on solutions are pretty familiar: white papers, case studies, trade shows, product brochures, review and rating services, and of course, suggestions from friends and colleagues.

Now there’s another option to add to the list that can speed up the research process: structured informational meetings with Dynamics add-on solution vendors. Traditionally, Dynamics users have avoided such meetings until late in the selection process because, let's face it, most people want to avoid dealing with sellers until they can't avoid it.

But when set up with the right expectations and understanding, such informational meetings can be carried out under parameters that shift the emphasis from sales to information, allowing users to speak directly with the members of product teams who understand Dynamics add-ons best and can provide baseline information that moves the selection process forward.

Solution Match 2021 offers one example of this model. It is MSDW's free-to-attend online matchmaking event on September 14 and 15 that is designed to make Dynamics solution research easy and fun, while giving users the power to hold meetings that meet their needs. At Solution Match, attendees – Dynamics users and their partners  make all the decisions about whom they’ll meet with, and they’re even rewarded by MSDW for each meeting they choose to attend (more on how rewards work can be found here).

The matchmaking model grows out of new thinking on the sales experience: that customers are better-informed than ever, and generic sales pitches no longer cut it. That higher standard for sales teams is a driving factor of the Solution Match 2021 event. Sponsors will be planning for constructive information-sharing sessions, not showing you a generic sales deck. Here are four ways to make such sales interactions, at Solution Match or in any software selection scenario, more productive.

Be upfront with salespeople about where you are in the buying process. 

Perhaps you are still early in the process and focused on identifying a number of vendor features to satisfy your requirements. You want salespeople to understand that you’re not about to make a final decision, but you also want to get answers to important questions about their products without lots of pressure to speed up your decision making. Gauge the reaction you get when you explain your situation — is the vendor representative responsive in terms of providing the information you need, or do they try to pressure you to make a decision? If it’s the latter, you may want to put that company off.

Be as specific as possible about your needs and the information you are looking for. 

As much as possible, try to explain why you are seeking certain information — how it relates to your overall needs. In addition to helping you answer key questions about a product's fit, you want to determine how well the sales people understand what it is you are trying to accomplish.

Be consistent in your information requests. 

This means presenting ISVs with written lists of your requirements, or at least posing the same questions to all candidate vendors, both during a call and in  follow-up questions. Your consistency is key to evaluating the quality of the responses you receive.

Consider sharing your budget. 

It’s natural to shy away from talking dollars before you’ve fully evaluated all vendors. But by providing a range early on of how much you expect to spend, you help salespeople determine their parameters for engaging with you. That information may help them customize a proposal or refer you to another vendor before you’ve gone too far in the process.

Interactions with sales teams don’t need to leave you feeling frustrated. Be prepared to evaluate each vendor individually and only work with those who take the time to understand what your company is trying to accomplish.

At Solution Match, users are in control: only they can request meetings with solution providers, not the other way around. That means no unsolicited meeting requests, no canned sales pitches, and no wasted time.

It’s the first example in the Dynamics space of a new approach for researching Dynamics apps – it won’t be the last.

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