Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vendors are people too

I was recently discussing vendors with Dan Holewienko, a consultant I trust, who said "vendors are people too". We sometimes forget this, instead treating them as a nameless member of a corporate entity.

Technologists may treat vendors as the enemy, especially when discussing price. Why? Because discussing pricing and terms is a battle, and the vendor is trying to push you into the highest price possible, so fight for price. I don't believe this is the right model. Vendors are business people, you're a business person, do business.

Do give vendors all the information they need to understand your business and your goals. Do share your pricing targets. Do share which other vendors you are talking to. Do share where you are in approval process. Do negotiate. Do give losing vendors your final decision and reasoning.

If you haven't had significant experience negotiating and working with vendors, hire an independent consultant who has.

Working with a vendor is not a transaction. Maintain a relationship with the vendor, touching base at least every 6 months. You don't have to purchase anything to touch base, but you'll be better off when you do.

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