Selecting a vendor for your business can be time consuming and stressful. You are making an important choice that will not just impact you, but an entire department or business. The goal should be to create a partnership with your vendor. Price is important, but it should not be the only thing to consider. Here are three tips that are worth noting.
Communication is my number one tip. How they respond during the sales process is important. Do you feel as though they are interviewing you? While it is perfectly understandable for a sales exec to pre-qualify a lead, it is also important to treat the person with respect. The tone of a person’s voice, their demeanor, level of patience when answering questions are all important. This sets the tone for how the relationship plays out over time.
Ask yourself, “Will I want to turn to this person with a problem or issue down the road?” How well they communicate & how quickly they respond will tell you a lot. Pay close attention to their genuine willingness to solve your problem or provide a solution that will benefit your business. How well do they listen?
One area I always look at when considering a new vendor is their social media marketing. When I check it, I am looking for several things:
- The date of their last post. I see so many businesses start social media, run it for a few years, and then drop it. How current is the last post? If it is over a year ago, it may be a red flag.
- What do they post? Do they post relative information that provides their readers with useful tips and news within their industry? Sharing is caring in social media. Pay close attention to what they have to say.
- Number of followers play a role as well. Too small of an amount may mean that not enough effort was put forth. Too many unevenly distributed between following/followers may suggest a bot was used. Many companies use bots, and while I don’t feel it is a negative, it is worth noting.
- How do they respond to customer service issues within their profiles? This is a very important area to take a look at. Unhappy customers many times will go to social media when they can’t get the right answers from normal customer service channels.
How flexible are they to change? As much as we all try, there are times when we need something handled and we need it yesterday! I remember a payroll vendor of ours once telling me that she was going to discount something for me because over the years, we never requested customer service. By looking over our account and determining we had been a good, quiet customer, she rewarded us. Kudos to the company for empowering her to make that call.
Be sure to ask about their customer service turnaround times. Is it within 24 hours of placing a call or inquiry via the web? Be sure to understand this before a problem comes up.
Proper vetting can save you a lot of time in money down the road. The added effort is well worth it.