Nobody wants to miss out on a big deal that can take your business to the next level, and maybe even change your life. But nobody wants to get caught up in a bad deal either.
So how do you make sure that “next big thing” is actually good for your business? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether you’re the client or the service provider.
Some keys include:
- Can I see your financial statements or credit rating?All that glitters is not gold – and a partner that goes belly up would be really, really bad for your business!
- Have you done something like this before? If so, what happened to your last partnership? If you’re a service provider conducting due diligence with a potential client, ask how the last contract ended. Was it a bad breakup and, if so, why?This is where industry networking helps because if you know someone connected to the previous service provider, you can get their take as well. Maybe the client demanded 90-day payment terms and “how low can you go” margins, so the vendor decided to walk for the sake of their own sanity. Or maybe they didn’t pay their bills at all. Yikes!
Think of it as “checking their references.”
If you’re a client checking out a potential service provider, ask if they have similar programs in place and literally ask for references before signing on the dotted line. Just be sure that you’re very seriously considering the partnership before making this request, out of respect for the time of everyone involved.
- If you haven’t done something like this before, what kind of infrastructure do you have in place to support the program, and how much of a priority is it for your organization?On the other hand, if you’re the “guinea pig” for this grand business venture, you want to make sure the other party has the resources – and drive – to deliver on their promises.Will you have a dedicated contact? How many team members will back that person up? How high does the project rank on the overall goal list of the organization, and does it have the backing of top management?
These are all important questions to avoid a long sales cycle followed by a stalled or completely abandoned implementation.
What important questions do you ask – both yourself and others – when taking a big leap in the business world? Please weigh in with comments.