Finding the Right Vendor for Your Organization (And How to Know When You Need Help!)
When something comes up that is outside of your area of expertise, where do you turn for help? Oftentimes, if it’s a persistent problem or big enough idea, hiring a vendor can help to lighten the lift for your team.
But how do you know when the right time is to hire help? Let’s face it – outsourcing work takes money and time, both to find the right vendor and then to manage the relationship. Whether you’re looking to outsource marketing, advertising, legal, finance, or any other sector of your business, this framework will help you feel confident that you’re choosing the vendor that best fits your organization.
How to know when you need help
Regardless of your organization’s industry or size, there are a few triggers that are commonly experienced that signal you may need additional help.
1. It’s not your core business
There may be problems that arise that you don’t have enough time to handle and are outside of your core business practices. For example: If you operate a retail store and you’d like to solve the problem of how to market your products online to expand your geographic footprint. Depending on the size of your staff, maybe you don’t have a full marketing department, or maybe it’s more than a one-person job. Regardless of the reason, the project falls outside of your core business and requires someone with the know-how of running online ads to help you expand outside of your market.
2. It’s not your area of expertise
Things come up that may be outside of your areas of expertise – whether that’s legal, finance, technology or marketing needs for example. If you find yourself saying “We know we should do something on this but I’m not sure what to do,” chances are you’re in the market to hire an expert. This is oftentimes when people evaluate the best use of their time. Sure, you can spend forever reading and researching on the internet. Though in these cases, your time is better spent sticking to your area of expertise and hiring an expert to guide how you handle the problem you’re experiencing.
3. It’s not your strength
Evaluating a problem or project against your strengths and weaknesses is different than evaluating against your expertise. You may know about the topic of problem area, but if it’s not a strength of yours, your time may be best spent doing something else. Knowing when to hire a vendor often comes down to assessing your resources (most often time and money are the two big ones) and thinking about the tradeoff for each.
Finding the right vendor that fits your organization
Once you’ve determined that you want to work with a vendor, it’s important that you have criteria set for finding the best vendor to suit your organization.
Take the time upfront to find the right vendor and try to resist the temptation to jump around. There are countless benefits in building longer-term partnership, including their understanding of your strategy and longer-term aspirations.
The following are four key areas to think through before starting a partnership.
1. All good relationships are built on trust
Similar to when you’re hiring internally, when working with a vendor you want to feel like you can trust them and that they have your best interest at heart. Working with someone who is always trying to sell you on the next product or service can feel unsettling. Take the time to interview and find the right vendor who understands your goals and vision and who has the same values as your organization.
2. Look at their expertise
Of course, the point of hiring a vendor is most often because they’re an expert in an area you’re less familiar with. In your search, be sure to find someone who knows exactly what you need and is an expert in the areas that you’re looking to improve. This is where testimonials, reviews and case studies are helpful — what do they have to show for their work?
3. Find a quality match
When looking for a vendor, it’s important that their quality matches yours. This especially comes into play when looking at their speed and pricing. For example, if you’re a high-volume organization, you’ll want to work with someone who can keep up and has worked with other clients in similar circumstances. Similarly, if you sell a high-end service, you’ll want to work with another high-quality team who has experience with higher priced services.
4. Assess their value discipline
Being clear about your organization’s value discipline will help you choose a vendor that best fits your approach and goals. The following categories are what we’re talking about when we say “value discipline”:
- Product Leadership
Focus on innovation and cutting-edge products and services
- Operational Excellence
Focus on fast, low-cost, efficient operations
- Customer Intimate
Focus on deepening customer relationships
Your organization can be a mixture of the three, though there’s typically one that you excel at or are striving for. Knowing your value discipline will help you pick a vendor that fits your approach. For example: If you are all about customer intimacy and establishing long-lasting relationships, then a vendor that specializes in operational excellence is not likely to work out well, for you or your customers.
While assessing value disciplines, it’s important to recognize that it’s not just about price. Avoid the purely price game and remember it’s a balance. It’s about finding a vendor that will work well with your team, align with your value discipline and is available within your price point.
Choosing your next vendor
Hopefully this framework helps to assess your organization’s need for a vendor and how to find the best fit for your organization. Send us a message if you have any questions – we’re here to help you position your organization for success.