Decision Criteria

Decision criteria

Everyone has a criteria when it comes to buying something. When it’s just an individual purchase, these are relatively simple. When it’s an organisational purchase, there will be more people involved across different departments.

When I buy a pair of trainers for example, my criteria would be the size of my feet, whether they are for sport or fashion and the colour I would prefer. 

As you can see here, the above criteria - shoe size and colour - obvious as they are, are not all equal in weight when it comes to actually buying the shoes. A shoe in the wrong size isn’t going to work no matter if everything else is perfect. The colour however, is more subjective and has multiple acceptable outcomes that would result in a purchase.

The same is true for the decision criteria within the organisation you are selling to; they will not all be created equal. So how do you decide what is more important than others? Where do you focus your energy?



Whilst you will have identified all of the different criteria from all of the different departments, it is well worth your time considering these in line with the Organisation Chart and who your Champion and Economic Buyer are. 

What are their top criteria? 

What features, functions or pay-offs are top priority for them?

Can they exert greater power and influence than other departments to get these criteria to the top of the list?

If yes, then you need to identify this and weave it into your sales strategy. 

Say for example, you discover that return on investment (ROI) is going to be the absolute deal breaker when it comes to signing off the deal. When running the metrics, you know that your solution delivers a ROI several months earlier than your competitors. This piece of information is key and is one of your differentiators vs. your competitors.

What is the reason that you achieve the ROI in this timeframe vs. your competitors? Whatever the reason, the answer is another differentiator.

Make sure your champion is fully on board with this knowledge and pushes your differentiators in internal meetings for you throughout the sales process, especially when dealing with the economic buyer.


Unfortunately you can’t get by on one criteria alone no matter if it is at the top of the list, the others are still in play and are still important. 

Here is when another arrow in your bow comes in useful; bias. Human beings are naturally biassed towards certain solutions and outcomes. Bias is often unconscious, but it is universal. 

Whenever a problem has been identified, the owner of that pain will automatically start thinking of a solution, and it will be a solution that they are familiar with. It would be a rare day that someone thinks up, out of the blue, a solution that has never been encountered before. 

So, your customer will already have some preconceived idea as to what the solution to their pain will look like, now you have to find out what that is. When you find out what the customer bias is in each of the decision criteria areas, you can start influencing them. 

Let's look at the areas:

  1. Technical decision criteria: functions and capabilities required to solve the issue

Technical bias might be influenced by a solution that is already out there, that the customer has been exposed to via marketing or might have used in a previous business. If you know that a customer has used a certain software in the past, this is likely what they have in mind when thinking of a solution to their problem. 

How is your solution better than that? 

What can you do that the preconceived solution can’t?

  1. Economic decision criteria: payback required to justify the expense

Economic bias might centre around a preconceived idea of how long it will take to see a return on investment and how big this might be. This bias is likely held by the economic buyer. 


  1. Relationship decision criteria: the sorts of companies that your customer wants to deal with

Relationship decision criteria is the most subjective of all the criteria and as such is harder to pin down. However your customer might be used to working with a software provider that can provide 24/7 availability and is biassed towards solutions with a very strong customer support set-up. 


In summary, decision criteria is like a shopping list for your customer. Without identifying the criteria customers will compare you to - you are just guessing if you are a good fit. 

Get to the heart of everyone’s shopping list, find the bias hidden within, and tailor your communication to deliver your key differentiators against the list. 

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