Get Me a Vendor Who Knows My Business
July 12, 2010 Dan Burger
One aspect of the COMMON Europe Top Concerns survey results that were released a few weeks ago is in tune with a recent Forrester Research report. Both sources of feedback from people who buy software and services strongly suggest a desire to work with vendors that demonstrate how well they know the vertical industry of the buyer and how well a specific vendor understands a specific company’s position in its market.
Call it the “to know me is to love me” company-vendor relationship.
While plenty of vendors try to endear themselves to customers and prospects by offering the one-stop shopping benefit for all your IT needs, these vendors are often confusing their wants with your needs. OK. Dealing with one company instead of six is a convenience, but that’s not a major differentiator when it comes to buying decisions. The Forrester report backs up the COMMON Top Concerns report by concluding the significance of service and support is shifting from technology knowledge to business knowledge.
In other words, don’t try to impress me with the size of your portfolio without getting to know me better. Make it personal.
If you are making purchasing decisions, you can be picky. Vendors that focus on their products and their resources are very likely clueless about what you need when it comes to your business.
If you don’t understand your company’s business goals or have a basic idea how IT can help achieve them, you need to get a grip on that before your IT vendor can help you.
A lot of existing homegrown software was built without the proper amount of input from the business side. Those were the days when IT worked on an island. That’s no longer acceptable. Avoiding islands or silos or whatever you want to call them is just as important as avoiding the loss of competitive differentiation that highly customized, homegrown systems created. When handled correctly, IT should still be a source for competitive advantages.
Forrester analyst Scott Santucci says when companies sort through vendors they are attracted to those who can “match a relevant set of capabilities to their specific circumstances.”
The Forrester research shows that companies want vendors that can explain products and training in terms of realities that customers face and connect those realities with specific examples of how the vendor can help. The message to the vendors is: How you can help my business is as important as what you have to sell.
Forrester’s report was derived from a survey of 166 North American enterprise business and IT decision-makers. The analysis determined that one out of four buyers were dealing with salespeople who were knowledgeable about the prospective customer’s specific business.
With IT spending projections looking much healthier than they’ve been in quite some time (check that COMMON Top Concerns report as well as the Related Stories links below for some good news in this regard), you’ll find vendors very eager to accommodate budgetary expansion. It’s a great time to explain that they need to help you solve business problems. Get what you need and let the vendor know it’s not all about what he has to sell.