Question: When doing due diligence on a potential vendor, what is one item I absolutely must check off my list?
"Are they wanting to work with you because it's a decent job for them, or because they are on fire about supporting you? If you feel the burning in their belly, and they have the expertise, the rest is easy. I look for that fire first because they either have it or they don't. "
"When vetting any potential new vendor, you must speak with at least two customers who successfully engaged with the firm on similar projects. Ask if the vendor was easy to work with, if the staff delivered on time and budget and if the client would work with the vendor again. Read between the lines, and look for red flags."
"When negotiating, you naturally think about how your team can benefit from a partnership. Remember to understand the value your counterpart gets, and as much as possible, increase it. You want a long-lasting relationship. Unlike a single success, building a reputation as a good partner will benefit you as you expand to work with other organizations."
"Turn into a "secret shopper" by calling their customer service line or emailing with a problem. Evaluate response time, attitude of the support staff, how completely they answer an inquiry and professionalism. This is especially important if a vendor will interact directly with your audience at any point. "
"Vendors can sometimes be scams. Get the name, number and social media account of the person who will be working with you. Why? If you don't know who will be doing the work, there's a good chance the vendor is simply a front to accept your business and outsource everything. If they do give a name, allow a 60-day period before you hire them to see if you feel comfortable working with them. "
"The level of responsiveness lets you quickly assess what it’s going to be like to deal with that person or company and what kind of customer service you’re going to get. It’s not just what a vendor is offering, but it’s answering the question of, “Do they care?” It’s figuring out how much they care about you as a company."
"If you only find out one thing about a potential vendor, client, employee, partner or investor, it is this: Is this person a criminal?"