In the world of marketing, there’s always a push to stay ahead of the curve and, more importantly, ahead of competitors.
However, it’s hard to dedicate the time, money, manpower and technical know-how to launching truly eye-catching (and revenue-generating) campaigns. This is especially true for smaller companies with marketing teams consisting of only one or two employees.
Enter the potential best friend to most campaigns: the vendor.
At the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 Media Center, Erin Hogg, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, sat down with John A. Caldwell, President and Founder, Red Pill Email, to discuss the finer points of vendor negotiation. Specifically, John explained what to look out for when considering tech support vendors and what you should — and shouldn’t — negotiate when it comes time to draw up a contract.
Watch the below interview to learn tips on how to handle vendor negotiation:
What to look for when it comes to tech support
John emphasized the importance of interviewing the companies you’re considering for tech support. It makes sense. Your company is going to end up spending several hours with the employees of the tech support vendor you choose.
It’s in your and your company’s best interest to make sure you’re not just looking for the best price but also the best support.
“Make [interviewing tech support people] part of the purchasing process, part of your due diligence,” John said.
When interviewing vendors, remember to keep your company’s needs at the forefront of your questioning. Specifically, John recommended asking interviewees about concerns your company has, what kind of questions they typically receive and what the vendor’s turnaround time and process is.
“There’s ticket time and there’s resolution time,” John said. “Some vendors will put a ticket in, and they have X number of hours to act on that ticket. Their ticket time may be 24 hours, but the actual resolution time is, say, an hour. That might not work with your company.”
“You don’t want to wait until you’re at the point of contract or after contract to find that out,” he added.
He also recommended asking your representative to give you the tech support line and to call it. This will give you an idea of how quickly they answer the phone.
“It’s good to interview them too. I find that helps a lot — no surprises,” he said.
Navigating the contract
John’s advice was framed primarily through his emailing background, but it’s also applicable as general advice when it comes to drawing up the vendor contract. His main piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Specifically for email, John emphasized focusing on the break points.
“Little things like [penalties] can have big consequences a little further down the road. Other things you can negotiate,” John said. “There are hard costs, there are soft costs.”
For example, for an emailing vendor, a hard cost may be a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. The cost of this certificate most likely won’t be something the vendor will negotiate because it will be paid for out of pocket. This is a hard cost.
However, if that vendor is already paying an employee to set up the systems, the vendor may be able to lower the set-up fee. This would be a soft cost.
“Don’t be afraid to go ahead and ask, ‘What can I get away with?’” he advised. “But don’t be firm on something that is a hard cost. Accept those, and hammer them on the soft costs.”
John joked, “And vendors that are watching this, they’re not going to be too happy with me right now.”
You can follow Kayla Cobb, Reporter, MECLABS Institute, on Twitter at @itskaylacobb.
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