Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Negotiating with Vendors (Part I)

Here's one area where business owners can fall into a costly trap. Vendors making big promises in the pre-sales process only to underdeliver after the check is cashed. There are a few ways this can be avoided.

Get the Demo

If it's software that you are buying, get the demo version up and running for about 30 days (10 days at least). This will give you time to make sure it's easy to deploy and you can see it in action for a few days. Talk to the vendor about customizing the software to conform with your process. Most software these days should be easily customizable without costly consulting charges.

Any vendor worth dealing with should have a complete set of testimonials. These may be found on their website or in their product literature. Get the names of large and small current customers and talk to them about their experience. Ask about the vendor's post-sales support. Ask about their implementation. Was it on time? What kinds of problems arose? How were they handled?

Are there free options?
Within the last 8 years, hundreds of websites have popped up providing valuable tools and resources. If you are looking to implement a software solution, try searching for "open-source" software. Open source refers to the fact that the source code for the software is openly available at no cost. A group of developers join in on maintaining the software and adding functionality.
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