The Perspective 
Monday, 26 February 2007
The complete version of this article will be published in the April issue of Self-Service World Magazine.
Click here to download a complete PDF chart of Alex's steps.
After two decades of experience as a kiosk vendor to dozens of worldwide retailers and brands, I switched roles. In 2005 I formed Selling Machine Partners, a company that partners with retailers to develop cross-channel strategies, vendor RFPs and project implementations, and, in doing so, I went from being a vendor to being a client.
In this new role I’ve rapidly come to the humbling realization that many of my prior assumptions about customer expectations were misguided and internally focused. And I see many of my talented vendor colleagues in the industry mirroring my mistakes and losing business to savvier, more customer-focused competitors.
Emerging technology decision making at large firms is governed by natural selection, a process that many kiosk providers understand but haven’t mastered.
Here are a few tips to better help your clients:
1. Know the client’s business. As a client, we expect our vendors to be in synch with our company goals, industry background, key management names and competitors. I’m amazed how often I have to prod prospective vendors to turn off their computers, get out of the office and visit our stores to gain a sense of the brand and how our customers interact with store associates.
2. Listen carefully and offer specific suggestions. As a client, when I explain our company’s problem and goals to a vendor, I don’t want a PDF catalog or URL with links to dozens of products in response. I want a few strong recommendations on how to solve my particular problem. I don’t have the expertise or the time to sort through product specifications.
Clients value strong problem-solving skills in their prospective vendors. My clients are numbed by too many long power points that never focus on a specific solution for our situation
3. Provide real information. My vendor heroes are seasoned technology project managers and pre-sales engineers who are authentic, brilliant, great listeners and can stick with the engagement after it is sold. As a marketing guy, I know we need the “sales” team on sales calls, but their job should be to manage the process (and get the coffee/bagels) and keep quiet during the meetings.
Today, clients don’t need or want to be entertained by five-star restaurants or elaborate office décor. Clients want to beat their competitors and enhance customer experience by procuring great, innovative products and services at reasonable prices.

Posted by: Alex Richardson AT 11:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  

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