Getting the most out of (procurement solution) vendors

Jason wrote a great piece last week about making your voice heard with suppliers (software firms etc).  If you're involved at all with procurement solutions vendors, do read it.  He wrote it with the recent Emptoris / Rivermine acquisition in mind; acquisitions are often not good news for clients (although this one may well be an exception) as they can lead to reduced service levels, increased pricing or other nasties.

So Jason gives some very useful tips around making your voice heard with your providers. And he points out that a negative customer voice can be very damaging; equally, a positive customer, particularly one who is prepared to go public, has huge value to the provider.  That's something you should think about using and leveraging in your relationships with any vendors actually.

I'd just add a couple of points to his comments.  The point about acquisitions can be exacerbated because of geographic issues.  Being the only client of a particular vendor in your country is not always a comfortable place to be; and may be less so if they're acquired by another 'distant' (from you) firm.  And on a more positive note, I've been struck by the willingness of most vendors to talk to procurement people in a genuinely 'non-salesy' manner.   I don't think I made enough of that personally when I was a line manager.

You need to stress that you don't want a sales pitch when you set up the meeting, but most vendors will see the opportunity to learn from you anyway (what you're up to, how you're thinking about issues in the industry etc) and will happily swap that for an update on latest market or technology developments.  Of course they're going to tell you their stuff is great; but if you're smart enough to understand that, you can get a lot out of an hour with an appropriate person from a reputable provider - software, consulting, services, whatever.

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