Vendor Selection Wins & Woes

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I am currently in major negotiations for a new vendor to help up through a process that many might see to be an easy one but it really is not easy with so many moving parts on our end. Without going into the details I felt it may be helpful to other creative and technical leaders at my level or otherwise to express how I go about the process as a whole.

More than ever I think of vendor selection being similar to hiring people for your own internal team whether for a corporate environment, an agency, or similar.  Hiring is a crap shoot…yes i said it.  Think about it for a minute.  You start the process with resumes, cold calls, or recommendations from others in your field and whether you are like me a take a step back after each phone call, in person meeting, or group setting, it is hard to make a choice.

For example when I am hiring someone for my own team it starts with hundreds of resumes, you whittle those down to a handful worth printing for another review, you take those and again whittle them down to the ones you will call and talk to. From there you choose another smaller group to come in for a face to face.  You might do two, three or even four rounds of interviews, maybe you even involve others from your team that you trust to get their opinion from and in the end it’s still nearly a fifty fifty.

I have struggled with this process both in hiring and in vendor selection for years. One truly never knows what they might get out of the process and many times things work out great as you lean on your own experiences, judgements and maybe even intuition. Other times it works for a while but then someone drastically swirls downward like water down a drain.

Getting back to the vendor selection side of things the same applies, you have a few phone calls,  a few meetings, promises are made, and you still have to make a judgement call on whether all the things you think, heard, and want to believe are accurate. Too many times the promises, hopes and desires are not fulfilled and sadly I think that is just part of how the world works today.  Over promise…Try to make it work and if it doesn’t, apologize, blame the circumstances, and others for the short comings. Myself being first generation off of the farm, I grew up with a very strong work ethic. The idea that you under promise and over deliver just doesn’t seem to be the way things work these days, but it is still important to have trust and do our part to build strong relationships.

Is the current environment a result of generational gaps, technology, or any one of the other elements that are part of today’s every day life, and were not just a handful of years back. I am not certain of any of those things but find that making choices on short notice, over a few conversations or otherwise will for at least the foreseeable future be…a crap shoot.

So after all that rambling, I find that my choices are often instinctual.  Whether experience, having more knowledge than i did before, wanting to trust people to help me, my company, or be part of something great, I find that looking for honesty, trust and someone or a even a group of people that you can build a true partnership is the only answer.

Do I still fail at picking the best person, the best company, or believe too strongly in promises only to be let down…of course. That doesn’t mean that my experiences, intuition, and other feelings don’t help guide me thought the process, which all of the above are partly human nature in that we all want to put trust in another’s actions and words. Over the last few years I have had more successes than failures but both the successes and failures always make me ponder how I take on the next endeavor.

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    Hello! My name is James Einspahr and I’m a Creative Director & Digital Strategist based in Denver, Colorado