I recently had a conversation with a professional buyer who deals with millions of dollars of B2B contracts. I asked him what advice he'd give to other buyers. He answered, providing I'd keep his name a secret. I agreed.
Here's are the seven (7) laws that he gave me:
- LAW #1: DON'T hire a vendor just because they give good presentations. It's a myth that a vendor's ability to help you can be gauged by how well the firm can sell. Unless you're planning to learn from their style, a vendor's ability to sell is completely irrelevant.
- LAW #2. DON'T hire a vendor just because they've helped you in the past. It's a mistake to choose based purely upon a positive experience in the past. While the vendor's products may have been useful once, they're not necessarily the products that will serve you best today.
- LAW #3. DON'T hire a vendor just because you're impressed by their CEO. CEOs are often dynamic, charismatic individuals that can wow a crowd at a conference or webinar. However, that doesn't mean that the vendor has a product that's useful for your company.
- LAW #4. DON'T hire a vendor because they've worked with your competition. If the vendor is responsible for your competitor being successful, then there's a good chance they'll try to clone what they did before. Imitating competitors is a go-out-of-business strategy.
- LAW #5. DON'T hire a vendor because they've got "best practices." "Best practices" inside one industry may be nonsensical inside another. Even within one industry, the "best practices" that work for one firm may not work for a firm with a different strategy.
- LAW #6. DON'T hire a vendor just because they've got a good brand name. Going with a top vendor just because of their reputation is like buying a car just because it has a familiar name. Common sense says to decide what you really need before you pull out your checkbook.
- LAW #7. DON'T EVER hire a vendor who exaggerates or misrepresents. If your drill-down reveals that the vendor is not being entirely straightforward, remove that vendor from the short list. This is one case where "zero-tolerance" must always be the rule.