What’s your OSS Linda Evangelista Number?

Linda Evangelista, a supermodel back in the day, was famously quoted as saying, “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.”

When conducting vendor selection processes with my clients, I tend to find the “OSS Linda Evangelista number” quite helpful. It’s the minimum dollar amount that a vendor will be prepared to accept to implement their solution as an OSS project. For some vendors this number is in the multiple millions. For others, it’s much less.

It’s one of the filter questions we apply when seeking to rule a vendor in or out very early in a procurement process. This approach helps the vendors too because it quickly allows them to decide whether it’s worth their effort to bid for the project or not.

Naturally the cost to implement an OSS project will vary a lot, depending on the scope of the project, so it’s difficult to get even rough pricing estimates early in discussions. However, I do find that most vendors already know their range of viable project prices.

Truth be told, I don’t actually ask for a single number, but provide a set of pricing “buckets” (eg sub-$500k, $500k to $1m, $1m to $5m, etc) and ask vendors to list whether they typically do projects within each of those bucket-ranges. I should also point out that it’s a multiple choice question, so a vendor might regularly do projects all the way between $500k and $5m.

Most smaller vendors will not only have a Linda Evangelista (minimum) number, but also a maximum number above which projects become unviable because they don’t have the resources to deliver. It becomes more like a Goldilocks range – not too heavy, not too light.

This is just one of a handful of questions that helps us to quickly filter from the full list of 500+ vendors in our OSS/BSS Vendor Directory down to a very short list of best-fit vendors for us to evaluate more closely with clients. It’s a much faster and more efficient process than having to go through detailed requirement gathering and a comprehensive EOI / RFI / RFP process to determine a vendor short-list.

Speaking of filter questions – Bob Burg, the author of Endless Referrals, has another wonderful filter question that I ask a lot, especially of product vendors when meeting them for the first time – “How can I know if someone I’m talking to is a good prospect for you?

I find that I spend a lot of time making connections for other people and companies these days. Bob’s brilliant question invariably helps me to understand their ideal customers, and therefore who I should introduce them to. It leaves less to my interpretation if they have specific client personas in mind.

How about you? Do these two filter questions resonate with you? Do you have your own filter questions that are so helpful that you find yourself asking on a regular basis in this industry? I’d love to hear them!

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