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Gearing Up for a Great Vendor Partnership

Make the most of your new vendor partnership.

After working with clients who had some rough history with past vendors, we can see why some might be nervously optimistic as they move into a new relationship. Here are some tips to make the most of your collaboration.

At Geonetric, we work with hundreds of healthcare marketers across the country – some have been working with us for over a decade, while others are new clients that came from other vendors.

Some of these new clients may not have had the best relationship with past vendors. Others are just looking for a good working relationship, like Holly Smith, Director of Marketing and Communications at St. Vincent Health in Indiana.

“The decision of picking a CMS vendor can make or break a department. Your working style, the systems you have, and how supportive you are makes our lives easier and that is what we look for when picking a partner and a vendor,” Holly told Geonetric after the launch of her organization’s website.

After working with clients who had some rough history with past vendors, we can see why some might be nervously optimistic as they move into a new relationship. Here are some tips to make the most of your new partnership.

Set expectations – you deserve them!

If your previous vendor took weeks to respond to an issue, or even return a call, ask your new partner what their response time is and set out expectations for a working relationship. A lot of what becomes a problem can be solved up front with communication from both parties being on the same page.

At Geonetric, we’re all about “putting the moose on the table” so you’ll get nothing except a round of applause when you’re honest about how you work, what’s going on in your world and most importantly, your expectations for a smooth-running relationship.

Understand the why: Review notes, materials and presentations

Paper trails are never scoffed when you need them most. If you weren’t involved in the proposal or sales process, ask for notes from the start of the process. Specifically, find out:

  • Why did your executives or decision-makers choose the vendor?
  • What functionality was discussed or agreed upon during the contract process?
  • How will the vendor’s skills or services be utilized for the future work?

If you were present for the sale, keep your notes handy and build on them as the work begins. Referring to your notes and what you’ve heard or understood are important for our next tip.

Chances are, your web vendor and project team is also taking good notes and leaving paper trails, but it never hurts to have two sets of notes to compare and keep each other on the same page.

Be open, honest, and transparent

Relationships of all kinds are a two way street when it comes to communication. Your web vendor can’t read minds, and neither can you.

Goals, ideas, intentions – these are all excellent things to have top of mind when starting a new digital project, but they don’t get very far if they’re not expressed.

If it’s something you want, or something you’ve heard that you need clarified, speak up and be honest. Similarly, if your web vendor doesn’t deliver what you expected, don’t be afraid to respond in earnest. Letting your vendor know what you do or do not like ensures they can adjust deliverables to give you what you expect so you don’t only get the experience you paid for, but the experience you deserve.

Ask questions and expect clarity

The world of digital marketing has a lot of lingo, and sometimes vendors use words differently. “Content strategy” might have meant something different with your last vendor than your new one. “User experience design” can be interpreted in a number of ways.

But whether you’re deciphering vendor lingo, or you’re just not sure about the direction of your project, asking questions and expecting clarity are your rights as a client. This can tie back to the notes you’ve taken, and being open and transparent, but when you’re starting a new vendor relationship, no question is a stupid question. Open-ended questions are a great way to get a thorough answer, such as:

  • Can you explain what you mean by that?
  • Just so I’m clear, you’re saying…?
  • Why are you recommending…?
  • What can we expect with this project/process/step?

If you need more definitive timelines, project management or other support services from your vendor, don’t hesitate to ask.

Good luck on your journey

The fact that you’re already thinking ahead to how this new relationship will work and what lies ahead means you’re on the right track to a successful digital journey. You and your vendor are counting on each other for success, and that’s the bottom line.

Erin Schroeder

Gearing Up for a Great Vendor Partnership