Outsourcing parts of your business to outside vendors means you are relying on experts to help you accomplish more results and perhaps fill a resource gap in your own organization. How do owners of an ecommerce retail businesses or even executives at Fortune 50 companies know that they are getting the best value and results?
How many times have you heard a colleague tell you that their marketing firm just can’t get their web site done, their PR firm is not delivering enough media coverage, or their event company ran over budget and delivered an substandard event experience?
Aside from the basics of good sourcing and reference checking along with the fundamentals of setting deliverables and measuring results, there is one key question to ask yourself to ensure the dollars you spend with outside vendors deliver the results you expect, and more.
Do you treat your vendor as a partner?
Chances are your vendor has other customers. While you may have documented the statement of work and expected deliverables, vendors go the extra mile when they have access to you and/or the team members critical to their success . . . when you share your business metrics and how you measure success at a macro and micro level . . . when they feel their work is valued and recognized.
As an example, it’s good practice to hold a weekly 20-30 minute meeting with your vendor following an established agenda structure. Even better is touching base on an ongoing basis. Forward internal updates that are relevant. Take the time when on the phone or in person to build a business relationship through shared interests. Reach out occasionally and ask how things are going, and always be responsive. These small steps can go a long way towards building a solid relationship with your vendors.
When it comes to metrics, a PPC firm, for example, may apply a common industry measurement such as cost per lead as the primary business metric by which they monitor and measure success of your account. Does that measurement align with how you measure the results they deliver for you? If not, make sure your vendor is clear on what you view as success metrics and adjust accordingly.
Do you take good work for granted? Make sure your vendor knows . . . that you know . . . the value they deliver. Praise them in person and within your company to improve your relationship with your vendors. At vendor agencies, team members often know which clients are the best. Just like people want to work for a great boss, agency employees also want to work on the accounts with the best clients. You want to be one of those.
Conversely, if you aren’t seeing results in an area, then ask what your vendor needs or why they think you have not been able to accomplished results in that area. Chances are they know but they may not be telling you. Either way, you can work together to solve the challenge.
You will know you have built a successful relationship with your vendors when they:
- Execute against the agreed plan or service level and proactively update you on milestones;
- Provide recommendations and choices when it comes to decision-making (and if budget applies, provide the budget levels associated with each choice);
- Treat your budget just as if it was their own money;
- Bring you new ideas;
- Say you are their favorite client (and mean it)!
The author, Becky Wood, has sourced, hired, and fired vendors across many marketing disciplines in North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific and Japan. She is currently CMO and General Manager at Webgistix Corporation, the global leader in eCommerce Order Fulfillment.