A healthy relationship with a vendor takes hard work, effective communication, and setting appropriate expectations. It starts before you sign on the dotted line.
Take time to build relationship with potential vendors/distributors well in advance of your target procurement and implementation time frame. A “courtship” is far more than an educational exercise to become familiar with product and service offerings. It’s an opportunity for both companies to become acquainted. They need to understand your environment, needs, and culture. You need to assess their skills as counselors and their capacity to adapt to your distinct circumstances.
As you move toward the selection process, establish clearly defined selection criteria to get past the hype and focus on what really matters in your context and what differentiates one supplier and solution from another. Think beyond features and functions. The “fit” with your company and their ability to deliver on defined roles and responsibilities should weigh heavily on the outcome.
The following considerations may trigger your thinking:
- Contact center focus and experience. This should be a major part of their business. If they sell mostly basic telecom or networking equipment, keep looking.
- Size of their business. Big or small isn’t absolutely good or bad. It’s more about how their size aligns with yours and whether or not you’ll get the attention you need.
- Geography. Determine whether or not they have coverage for the areas in which you operate. [Not everyone needs a “local” provider.]
- Vertical market focus and experience. Understanding your business is more important if you are going to use their services to a greater extent, especially to support business transformation.
If you are looking at distributors rather than working with vendors, make sure you address these additional areas:
- Distributor/vendor relationship. Understand the category they’re in (simple reseller, value-added reseller, partner), their history and longevity with the vendor, and the direction in which the relationship is heading. Determine the degree to which they have the vendor’s ear or merely count themselves among the many who represent the product.
- What products/services they offer. Know their full offerings and how that impacts the products and services of interest to you.