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How Choosing the Right Technology Partner is Kind of like Dating

Published: October 20, 2016
Daniel is the National Sales Leader for the NetSuite Business Unit at Tribridge. Read More

Times have changed for dating and modern romance due to texting, dating apps and websites. There are new ways in which singles communicate, court and find love today.

Modern dating is actually pretty similar to the search for the right technology partner. If you've had trouble courting a partner, sadly, you are not alone. Many companies even have to break up with a partner and start over.

This post is replete with nuggets of wisdom designed to help you avoid a bad relationship. Many of them are common sense, and most of them are going to sound similar to the advice from your mother when you started dating.

Spend Time Courting a New Partner

The first thing you should do with potential technology partners is date for a while. I don't mean the dinner and a movie type date, but the phone call and in-person meetings to get to know one another better type date.

Any partner who is truly looking for a long term relationship will want to know as much about your business as you want to know about theirs. They should express interest in gaining an understanding of your business in order to determine if their solution really is a fit for your needs.

For example, at Tribridge, we strive to learn as much about your company as possible BEFORE you sign any contracts. We conduct discovery calls, provide tailored demos, and even when you say you want our solution, we have a final scoping call with our services team to make sure the sales team didn't miss something. Getting to know each other better is critical to the long term success of the relationship.

If you love hiking and camping, you don't want to find out on the day you propose that the person you've been dating's idea of "roughing it" is using a salad fork all the way through dinner.

Build a Relationship

The next step in building a long term, mutually beneficial relationship with a technology partner is gauging how well they listened to your requirements. The partner should express a desire to show you how their solution can accommodate those requirements. Provide them with a list of things you want to see in advance of the demo, and schedule sufficient time to thoroughly review their product's capabilities during the demo. Partners who are willing to invest in the relationship will prepare solutions to your questions, but bear in mind this requires a commitment on your end to provide this information in advance. The solution may handle your requirement, but if the partner does not have time to prepare, you are putting them at a disadvantage.

Be Cautious of the "Yes"

Beware of partners who say "yes" to every question you ask about their system's capabilities. Qualify their "yes" answer by asking if it means the solution delivers that functionality out-of-the-box versus requiring customization.

I state at the beginning of all my demos that when I answer "yes" it means out-of-the-box versus my "yes, but it would require a customization" answer. We don't like surprises any more than you do, so it is OK to professionally question the partner's answers. Try to determine if they are investing in the relationship or simply saying what you want to hear so they can skip some of the courting process and jump right into…your checkbook.

Place Emphasis on the Positive

Be wary of partners who try to win your business by slinging mud at the competition. In the 2016 presidential election, most voters feel as though they are casting their vote for the lesser of two evils. I personally don't like making decisions between bad and worse. Tell me how your solution is going to help me. Rather than telling you how bad the other partner is, we are committed to winning on the merits of our products and services.

Focus on What is Important

Avoid partners who try to win your business by being the lowest cost provider. Partners understand that you don't have an endless supply of money to spend on an ERP solution; however, it is also important for you to understand that the lowest cost provider isn't always the best alternative. If they say the best reason to buy from them is because they aren't as expensive, you should seriously step back and determine why that is. You can get quality work on the cheap, but in most cases in life, you truly get what you pay for in the end. You wouldn't schedule your child's potentially lifesaving surgery with the cheapest doctor in town would you? No. Then you shouldn't stake your business operations on the lowest cost partner either.

Always Remember That Trust is Earned

Finally, trust but verify. Don't jump blindly into a relationship with an implementation partner until you verify their integrity. Ask for references from customers the partner actually implemented, and follow up with those references. We are not on the line during reference calls. We put our prospects in touch with our customers directly for reference calls so they can have a candid conversation without fear of us jumping in on the conversation. Any reputable partner will encourage verification of their claims.

In summary, do your homework on your implementation partner because implementing a new ERP system is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Always keep in mind that in most cases it is not the solution that makes or breaks the implementation: it's the implementation partner with whom you decide to engage to do the work. An investment up front in vetting the right partner will help you avoid a terrible relationship and a bad breakup.

Learn more about Tribridge’s approach to implementations of leading cloud solutions like NetSuite.

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