Price isn't the only thing that you should be looking at when choosing a technology or product vendor.
So what is a strategic vendor? I’ll get to that a bit later… I’ve been in the business world now over 30 years with the last 8 in the medical aesthetics field. In those 8 years, I’ve been mystified why so few vendors in this sector understand the importance of staying close to the customer. How so few really take the time to understand my business which although is similar to many others is uniquely mine with its own challenges.
Most vendors only come around when they have a new product, service, promotion or are on a ride along exercise with their boss and need some place to go… Most vendors never care to ask what my goals are and very few know what I’m planning for my business this year and next 5 years. Most only care about making the sale today and then move on to the next buyer.
Most vendors also carry with them a planned obsolesce strategy for the equipment they sell. They expect us to plunk down $100k plus every three years for their new technology which usually is a bit faster but offers little more than the generation they want us to replace. They try and sell us on the fact the our now 3 year old technology is now going to require a maintenance contract of $15,000 or more per year. They try and tell us that it makes “financial sense” to replace our old units because on a 7 year lease our monthly expense will stay the same.
Then they try and close us with “and you’re going to save $15,000 per year” because they are giving us a new 3 year warranty. Then of course three years later another sales guy repeats the process even though the new laser is now 3 years old but has 4 years remaining on a lease. Does this sound familiar…
So, what is a strategic vendor. This is a vendor that literally sits down at the planning table with you and tries to assist you in meeting your short term and long term goals. They ask question like;
- Forgetting who I work for and what we sell, what needs have you identified as technology shortcomings?
- What are your top revenue producing services today and how do you see that changing over the next few years?
- What are your current marketing campaigns, what are you planning in the next few quarters?
- What are the top three challenges facing your business today?
Strategic vendors don’t simply sell and come back every three years. In addition to taking the time to better understand our business issues and goals they go a few steps further. They put together robust consumer driven websites and brand products so patients can easily find us.
They buy consumer billboards, place ads in consumer magazines and appear regularly on national TV shows and refer new patients back to us. They offer to provide funding for advertising that uses their product or service. They offer to let us buy advertising from the national contracts they’ve negotiated. They offer to come in and conduct seminars for patients and conduct continuous improvement training for our staff.
In short they work hard and put forth programs to make sure the decision we made to invest in their technology platform is rewarded. Why? They know if they help us increase revenue we are very likely to continue to buy from them because they demonstrated through action that we matter to them for the long haul. So, tell your vendors who fall short to hit the road and look for vendors who care enough to understand your business and will work with you to help achieve your goals.