How To Get More From Tech Vendors

Mid-market CIOs often feel like they’re not receiving full attention from their vendors. After all, the big guys have more money to spend and more staff to help manage vendor relationships. This means if you're a mid-market CIO, you need to get a bit crafty. At our recent leadership conference, some CIOs shared their strategies.

Check them out --and please, add your own tips and tricks.  I’ll also share the best advice in an upcoming print article. 

By the way, several midmarket CIOs told me at the leadership conference that they’ve yet to feel the love that some of the biggest name vendors, including SAP and Oracle, are proclaiming for them at the moment. These vendors are making big marketing pushes for midmarket customers -- now that they’ve won over as many Fortune 1000 companies as possible. But from the midmarket customer point-of-view, it’s still at the stage of talk, not walk. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes by late this year, given the expected debut of new SAP on-demand services for midmarket companies in the fall. Now onto the tips:

1. Share your business plan.  “I am very much into collaboration and find sharing your future business plans often helps the vendor understand just what is at stake,” says Sandy Rasel, Vice President, Global Process and Applications Management, McCormick and Company. “If you share your plans, you are able to have a much richer dialogue that supports your future direction and engages the vendor to work with you.”

2. When negotiating, Google first. You’ll be amazed what you can find when you search on a particular hardware part number or software package, says a mid-market CIO who uses this tactic repeatedly, most recently when purchasing a WAN acceleration device and some high-end analysis software. (He prefers his vendors don’t know he’s hip to this trick, so we agreed not to share his name.) “You will be surprised how many people scan invoices or leave price data online,” he says. This should help you determine reasonable discounts.

3. Whet the vendor’s appetite. Hint at potential growth within your parent company organization if the price is right and the product is excellent, says Jeremy Schnorbus, director of technology services for NERA Economic Consulting.

4. Be the early bird who gets the beta. Offer to help some of your vendors do testing on new versions of products. This can help you get a say in the development of the tool, plus an early heads-up to new functionality, Schnorbus says.

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