How to Get Better Performance from a Vendor

December 3rd, 2009

I have been thinking about disappointed expectations in business relationships and have fabricated a conversation someone might have with a vendor who’s work was “underwhelming” or erratic.

If you were to sit down with the vendor and have a “reasoned conversation” reflecting back your expectations and what you have received to date, it might go something like this. this works for phone conversations, as well.

For example, “Joe, thanks for all the work you have done on the website. In your opinion what work is left to finish. (Pause for answer.)

“So what I hear you saying is that you need to finish a, b, c, and d, etc.” (Wait for a response.)

“By what date do you think you can reasonably finish the work?” (Pause for answer.)

“So is it reasonable for me to expect the finished product by _______?” (Wait for an answer.)

“Is there anything you need from us to support you as you work to finish the task by the deadline?  We want to help you as much as you need.”

“So you need x, y, z from us and we commit to providing that to you by ______.  Is there anything else you need?”

“Can we expect you to check in with us once a week, say Mondays at 10 AM, to get updates on your progress?”

“Thanks, etc. We are so glad you are a part of the team.” etc.

When you wait for a response, relax and really wait. Don’t sound rushed.

In the meantime, it might be good to have a back up plan to get the work done some other way.

When working with vendors to whom you have outsourced a projects, clarify and communicate, over and over again. When the results disappoint, be willing to shift gears. When the results meet expectations, don’t forget to give positive feedback.

One Response to “How to Get Better Performance from a Vendor”

  1. marianne Says:

    Good specific suggestions. So many times, we expect others to read our minds and forget that we have to tell them exactly what we are expecting and give them opportunities to tell us what they can and cannot do according to our needs. This kind of conversation saves a lot of time and trouble and upended expectations. It also gives a specific reason for severing the relationship if necessary because we have invited them to be clear and we have been clear. No chances to be misunderstood.

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