I spent a while on a series of conference calls today. Some with clients, others with just vendors who would like to sell to those clients. It amazes me how wonderful every single one of their pitches sounded. Their products were capable of things that would have been unimaginable a few years ago and the costs to accomplish great things with them have plummeted. Pretty good, right? Of course, then came the pesky part – the Q&A – that seems to trip up so many folks.
“Of course we can do that” seems to be a standard answer for almost anything. Well, being ABLE to do something isn’t the same as having DONE it already, or at least it isn’t in my twisted mind. Companies get themselves into problems by committing to deliver things that aren’t within their sphere of knowledge nor their scope of expertise. It’s like the old AAMCO Transmission commercial where the guy says “let me try, Boss, I always wanted to fix a transmission…” No thanks – not on my business.
I’ve always found that unless a vendor can demonstrate completed work it’s unlikely that they’ll deliver something new in a timely, acceptable manner. While I liked my kids having guinea pigs as pets I’m not sure that I want my business to be one. I’ve had a few nasty experiences over the years where very well-meaning people got in over their heads and both they and I looked foolish. It’s a lot my fault for not digging deeper but ultimately the cost to the vendor far exceed whatever we were paying them, both in terms of the actual costs they devoted to supporting us and the utter devaluation of opinions of their firm because of the hassle.
If you run a bakery, pizza is a related but very different business. You might be an expert in one but thinking your expertise in the former will let you promise top rated results with the latter is a big mistake. And if you’re buying from someone, it’s your job to dig deep and ask the questions. You’re not buying a great presentation – you’re looking for great results.