Tips for Training Your Tech Vendors

When you're a mid-market CIO, you may often feel like you're not receiving your vendors' full attention. After all, the big boys have more money to spend and more staff to help manage vendor relationships. Want to learn a few new tricks? Here are some tips from your peers, traded at CIO's recent leadership conference:

1. Share the 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, VP, global process and applications management, McCormick & Company. "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, Web search first. You'll be amazed at the invoices and price data that you can find online when you search on a particular hardware part number or software package, says a mid-market CIO who recently used this tactic when purchasing a WAN acceleration device and some high-end analysis software.

3. Show 'em the competition. "One of the best things weve done is a vendor appreciation day event," says Kevin Lupowitz, CIO for Liquidnet Holdings. Typically a golf outing and lobster dinner, this "builds great partnerships and individual loyalty. It also lets our vendors see who else we're working with, which helps maintain the sense of urgency to stay competitive."

4. Hire away one of the vendor's sales reps. Who's better to manage your relationship with that vendor than someone who knows the players and angles?

5. Play the Google card. Let vendors know that you're interested in Google Apps. Better still, consider banding together with other CIOs and presenting Google with requirements regarding Google Apps, says Ben Allegretti, former U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command CIO. "What if Google responded by building in added capabilities to meet our requirements? That just might change the entire dynamic of our relationships with some of our software suppliers," he says.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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