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- The delivery schedule that you offer. Can you get it to them when they need
it and be counted upon to keep on doing that? Do you offer a just-in-time delivery
system? Are you willing to let them warehouse the product and bill them as they
use it? The experience you have in delivering the product or service. Are you
familiar with their type of company and the way they do business? Are you
comfortable with that kind of relationship?
- The guarantees that you offer and, in general, how well you stand behind
what you do. I once paid several hundred dollars to buy a product from a Sharper
Image store. After a few months, a part on it broke, and I called their 800
number to see if they would take care of the problem. After listening to me only
long enough to understand what the problem was, the operator said, "If you'll
give me your address I'll FedEx a replacement part to you." I said, "Don't you
need to know when and where I bought it? I'm not sure that I can find my
receipt." "I don't need to know any of that," he told me. "I just want to be
sure that you're happy with what you bought." When a company stands behind what
they do to that extent, am I really going to worry about whether they have the
lowest price or not? Of course not.
Return privileges. Will you take it back if it doesn't sell? Will you inventory
their stock and do that automatically for them?
- Building a working partnership with you and your company. The old adversarial
relationship between vendor and customers is disappearing as astute companies
realize the value of developing a mutually beneficial partnership with their
- Credit. A line of credit with your company may be more important than price,
especially to a start-up company or in an industry where cash flow is cyclical,
and you could take up the slack during the lean months.
- Your staff. When the contract calls for something to be made (aerospace,
construction) or a service to be performed (legal, audit or accounting work,
computer services) other factors may be more important than price: The quality
of the workers that you will assign to the job. The level of management that you
will assign to oversee the work. The ability and willingness to tailor your
product and packaging to their needs.
- The respect that you will give them. Many times a company will move from a
large vendor to a smaller one because they want to be a substantial part of the
vendor's business to have more leverage.
- Peace of mind. AT&T keeps my telephone business although they are more
expensive than Sprint and MCI and have never pretended that they aren't. I stay
with them because the service has been trouble free and simple to use for many
years, and I have more important things concerning me than switching long distance
companies to save a few pennies a call.
- Reliability. Can they trust that the quality of your product and service will
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Copyright © 2004, Roger Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2004, The Negotiator Magazine