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Qualifying and Vetting Your Business Relationship Prospects

Sound Telecom is a leading nationwide provider of telephone answering, call center and unified communication services.  It’s friendly, courteous, and professional staff represents your company the way you want it represented, with your messaging, your branding, and your mission.

Let’s talk a bit about qualifying our business relationship prospects.  My brain was whirling around and around the ideas behind vetting potential customers, when a very wise mentor suggested I take this blog idea and broaden it — instead of narrowly focusing on some specifics around the prospect/customer cycle, why not give it a bird’s eye view and see what I come up with.

That’s when I realized that we do not qualify only sales prospects.  We qualify vendors, suppliers, networking associates, employees, products, services, ideas, tools, questions, answers, etc.  In fact, whether we are making judgments, decisions, or in the learning curve, we are qualifying the variables surrounding the object of our attention constantly.

So, from a bird’s eye view we can see that:

  1.  It’s important to do our homework.  It’s important it keep our eyes open, and our objectivity in place.  During rich economic times it’s easy to overlook red flags that might pique our interest in slower economies, so we want to be certain we ask all the same questions no matter what the economic climate.
  2. We want to try to prioritize the decision.  Is it surrounding something that will have a critical impact on our business, or is it more whimsical?  Obviously, the more important it is the more careful we will be.
  3. If we are vetting a potential business relationship, are we looking for a long term relationship or just a “filler” for the time being?  This is a trick question — no matter the length of the relationship, as a successful business owner you should look at all encounters from a long term perspective.
  4. Check references.
  5. Last but not least – do not be influenced by the size or popularity of a company.  Popularity is no substitute for substance.  Do not be enamored with “all that glitters” — instead look for solid, consistent reputable business practices.

In the end, whether you are offering a telephone answering service, a wholesale cleaning service, website building services, office supplies, tools, or any service or product, remember whether you are selling or buying services and products, vetting your prospective business relationships is a good idea.  It can be a balancing act weighing all the details of the information you are getting, but what you are doing is assembling all these puzzle pieces together in order to get a good idea of the risk the prospective client or supplier represents and then deciding if the risk is worth your time, your efforts, and your money.

Good luck!  Happy vetting!