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Vendor CredibilityDownload and print this article

Overcoming Common Hurdles

By Tom Wiencko

The notion of vendor credibility is guaranteed to strike fear in the heart of any salesperson. Traditional sales training teaches that one must either "have" credibility or "develop" credibility in order to succeed. When a large company loses a bid to a small one, it's almost certain someone with the large company is saying: "But that little company has no credibility!" For technology vendors, credibility is your life. For a carrier or other customer, determining your vendors' credibility is critical to mitigating risk and making smart choices. For a consultant, it's important to consider credibility - something that does not focus on the specific technical aspects of the product or service -as part of your vendor evaluation matrix. A vendor with a high degree of credibility in a particular company is trusted, generally based on a history of the vendor meeting commitments, and living up to or exceeding expectations.

Defining Credibility
Vendor Credibility - OSSA good way to look at what credibility means is to examine what is earned with it and work backwards. Credibility does not mean business will be won, but it does mean that a vendor can earn an invitation to tell its story. It does not mean that the vendor will continue to do business with a particular customer - it means that it will be considered for new business. It does not mean it will win every proposal - it means that in a close race, the quality of a relationship built on credibility may be the deciding factor. In fact, credibility is often the deciding factor even if the technical aspects of a proposal are not enough to win.

The best definition of credibility comes from a sales trainer, who said: "Credibility means that the prospect believes you can do what you say." Drawing on one's own personal experience, even in new interpersonal relationships, credibility means having a reasonable belief that the other person will do what they say. In the same fashion, the people and companies a person will turn to in a crisis are those that have developed credibility by understanding and meeting expectations time and again.

Consider a story where a Tier 1 wireless carrier was having a difficult time finding a system to fulfill a specific OSS technology need. There were no established vendors for this type of system, and very few integrators or developers had ever attempted to build one. The wireless carrier first engaged a vendor based on a product it pitched. After contracts were signed, money had changed hands, and the product was installed, it began to fail. The vendor never understood the real requirements, and did not have - or want - the kind of relationship where it could hear about and react to its product's deficiencies.

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