Have you ever had to buy anything? Of course you have. It’s interesting that the process of the sale often determines whether you make a purchase or not. A great connection and interaction may land a sale, and the opposite experience will most assuredly stop it.
Over my career, I’ve had various experiences in working with vendors. I’m sure that vendors will say the same thing. We all utilize vendors in business. We wouldn’t be able to be successful on our own. I’m thankful for the people who I currently work with because their products and services add value to our company and our employees.
Recently, I’ve noticed some rather disturbing trends when it comes to the HR/vendor connection.
I’m a HUGE proponent of Linked In !! I think it’s an incredible forum to reach out and connect with people around the globe. My network includes tons of HR pros, resource partners, students, people in transition and other business professionals.
Now, more than ever, vendors are using Linked In to reach out and connect for a potential introduction and sale. This method has replaced phone calls or in person visits, and I understand that. Everything is done through technology. This isn’t the concern. The concern I have is that if I choose to connect with you on Linked In, then that assumes I instantly will consider and buy your product, platform or service. That’s a pretty big jump if you ask me !!
Along with this movement on Linked In, there’s been another effort that is equally as disturbing. We all still get far too many emails every day. Interspersed between ones that are directly work related are subscriptions to blogs, various newsletter updates and information from vendors. The disturbing difference from many potential vendors is that the emails get more and more aggressive if you choose not to respond. On top of this, I’ve also had people use language to shame me asking why I’ve missed an opportunity that is sure to improve my situation.
One person even wrote me an email with the subject line “Concern” listed. As an HR practitioner, I thought it was a possible employee issue or something with a guest. The email was from a vendor who wanted to express his “concern that I hadn’t responded yet.” I responded. It wasn’t pleasant. He apologized and stated he didn’t realize that his tone would have raised any alarms.
First, be upfront and honest with each other. It seems simple enough, but it isn’t happening. I understand that you are tasked with landing a sale. What I’d like you to understand is that I want to have systems that help my company and my employees on an on-going basis. This means that not everything that is being offered will be a match. It doesn’t mean that your product is poor. It just may not fit.
Second, allow me to say “No.” Again, it seems simple. It just isn’t happening. Don’t think that if I turn down your service that it’s not successful. I would encourage you to develop a networking connection and relationship regardless if a sale occurs.
Finally, build on that relationship. What vendors fail to understand is that the HR community is very close and tight knit. We know each other and reach out to discuss practices and services. So, that connection you make with one HR person may lead to a sale in a company you never considered.
I realize that not all HR people are open to meeting vendors for the sake of meeting them. There are those of us who are willing to meet. But, please note that I want to meet you as a person as well as learn what you do. You may have something that could benefit a peer I know. Many of my closest friendships are with vendors that aren’t working directly with me or my company.
I’d love to see the HR/vendor connection improve. Let’s stop all of the “throw paint against the wall” methods. Reach out to me as a person. It’s always worked, and it still will. Keep it simple and be upfront.