Trust, Safety, Dependability, Reliability, Financial Stability….No these aren't keywords you would look for in a personal dating site, but really what you should be looking for from your Businesses Technology Partners. You can keep out the long walks on the beach and loves to camp and kayak and fine dining, but if your technology partner does that too then that’s an added bonus. So treating a business relationship like a successful personal relationship or marriage might be the right way to go!
One of the biggest complaints I hear on a monthly basis from new prospects is their passion for these things in the modern business world when it comes to their technology needs. Many of my clients have been down the road of service providers that have completely abandoned the ability to be nimble and provide customer care before, during and after the sales process. Being able to take the time to express your needs to your VAR and them listening and learning about your business is paramount to designing a solution to fit your needs. Since so many business rely on technology “experts” to help rudder their technologies that they use to keep up with the competition, it is paramount that that integrator can look at the big picture and design a solution that fits into their plans for now and into the future and can understand ALL of the technologies they use and how they can work and grow together.
The other thing I hear as a complaint is “My rep keeps changing!” Just last week I had a customer complain about their internet provider rep, saying they had their third rep in one year and that the most recent one emailed them to introduce themselves. My belief and experience has shown that the companies that have success in selling and keeping and maintaining their customers requires a relationship from many levels of the partner organization. From the customer service team, to the engineers, ongoing sales all the way to the Executive team. So when developing a relationship with a group make sure you can test drive that process if at all possible. Do your research, look for tenure and talk to their existing client base. Ask to do site visits, it is very easy to turn over the rock in this day and age.
No one has time for pleasantries in business when there are deadlines to be met. Being brutally honest saves a lot of time for my customers (Note: this might not be useful in your personal relationships). Honest, effective communication and compromise needs to happen for the business relationship to work. Working with a technology partner within strict guidelines does not work. The relationship needs to be nimble in order to navigate the changes that sometimes land outside of the box. Choosing a business partner that has a support agreement that looks like the control panel on the Space Shuttle should be a warning. Find a partner that you can communicate with immediately at any time and that a real, live person can communicate and help you with your issue then and there. Again, don’t be afraid to test drive this process and talk to other clients and ask how their support works for them.
Finally we have trust….this takes time. But take the time to do some of the soft touches above to gain that trust. I can never understand how some buyers make decisions on what’s on a piece of paper and the cost of it alone. Dig deeper get to know the culture of the companies you are vetting. Many of my customers I have been with longer than my wife (Note: Do not mention this to said wife). I strive for long term relationships with every new business relationship I come across. It is good for our company and the companies I work with. Quit playing the field and getting hurt from bad relationships and find some one that cares about your business as much as you do.