Stop Talking, Start Listening – Tips for Vendors and Consultants

relationship-tips-practice-vendorWe’ve all been there.

Sitting in a meeting listening to a vendor pitch their solution. They bring a team in to your organization and spend a few hours doing a song and dance about how their solution and team is the best partner for you in the long term.

This vendor explains to you how their solution is the top-rated solution in the industry. They tell you about all the awards they have won. They tell you about their great implementation and service team.

After a few hours, they stop talking and ask for your business.

You politely tell them thanks for the presentation and would like to ask a few questions.  Your questions are simple ones about who the team is that will be working with you during implementation, what type of consultants and partners the vendor works with for implementation and other fairly basic questions about their service and capabilities.

The problem arises when the room of vendor representatives can’t answer these basic questions. They can’t tell you exactly who will be involved in your implementation. They can’t tell you any real details about implementation timeline and costs.   What they will say is that they don’t work with consultants and service providers for implementation or customization.

After the meeting wraps up, the vendor packs up and leaves your building.  You feel like you’ve just been sold a car. You heard a ‘pitch’, there was a lot of talking but very little valuable information shared.

This happens all the time in the world of business. But it doesn’t have to.

Making the decision to invite a vendor in for a proposal is a big decision for any organization. The process should be open and honest. There should be a few “I don’t know’s” and/or a few “we’ll have to get back to you on that” mixed into the conversations.  But normally, you never hear those words. Usually, you only hear the ‘song and dance’ of a sales person trying to close business.

Here’s a few tips for vendors (or anyone else trying to close business out there):

  • It is OK to say “no”
  • It is also OK to say “I don’t know” (of course, follow it up with “but I’ll find out”)
  • Be ready to offer a list of other vendors/partners/consultants that you have worked with in the past for customization and implementation.
  • Be prepared to introduce the team that will be assisting the organization.
  • Be prepared to LISTEN.  Stop talking and listen to your potential client(s). You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn by shutting your mouth and listening to their problems.

The biggest tip of all is a simple one.  Be Genuine.  Don’t make your audience feel like they are being sold something. The last thing an IT professional wants (or needs) is to spend time listening to a ‘pitch’. Rather than pitching something, have a conversation and try to figure out how your organization can help solve the problems your potential client has.

Sounds pretty easy right?  It is..but most vendors (heck…most people) don’t get it.

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