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Why Can You Have More Than One Vendor?

“Thanks for the offer, but we already have a team in X working for us.” This (or something along these lines) is one of the most common objections that sales and business development managers hear when trying to offer resources in general or a team with a certain type of expertise to a customer. This objection actually makes sense – if everything is working, both parties are happy with the way things are, why bother to consider alternatives? In a way, it’s similar to human relationships in couples, save for a few psychological aspects that don’t quite apply to business. However, business is ruled by efficiency, and if vendor B can consistently demonstrate greater ROI than vendor A, A’s time may be running out. In a different scenario, B can complement A on a project if the latter has exhausted all of its capacity.

Today’s software development and implementation projects can be extremely long, complex and require, in some exceptional cases, thousands of specialists of various profiles. It is clear that very few companies in the world are capable of providing such resources on a dedicated basis, which is why clients end up breaking the scope into phases, tiers or modules, and outsourcing them to different vendors.No wonder that companies ordering products and aiming for the quickest release possible are interested in the shortest time to market, even if it means extra monthly spend. And this is exactly an opportunity that other vendors should clutch on to be able to win some place under the sun.

Negotiation strategies

If you are on the supply side and hear a “no” from a promising lead who says that they have a team they’ve been working with for years, don’t give up just yet. First of all, the existing team may not cover all of their needs either in terms of the number of FTE’s required or the availability of resources of a particular type. This is where you could fit in quite well without jeopardizing anyone’s interests and distracting the current team from their work. Cortlex, for instance, has worked as part of distributed teams and was able to seamlessly blend into the process by aligning with other contributors on communications, tasking and roles. You can do the same in a project setup of virtually any complexity. Unless you are openly blatantly questioning the ability of the other vendor to deliver, applying for a role in an ongoing project is totally fair and acceptable. This role may not even be related to delivering particular software components, but may be limited to quality assurance, code audit, or other activities.

If you are on the demand side – in other words, are a customer looking for a backup team, a strong alternative to an underperforming vendor or just somebody with a very particular skill set and expertise, this may be a good chance to try an alternative supplier without pausing the work on the project. If the trial is successful, you will, as a minimum, have a back-up vendor on your quick dial, or, as a maximum, have a new development partner with more areas or expertise, better competencies and increased efficiency.

Conclusion

As with many things in this life, a no is not always a no when it comes to working with a customer’s objections. There are always opportunities you can use, but you’ve got to see them first. If you feel you really have something to offer, be more persistent and don’t hesitate to demonstrate your abilities, portfolio and references. Perhaps, you will not be given a green light immediately, but the good impression from your presentation may make the prospective customer get back to you in the future. If you see that the other team is not doing a great job, delicately offer a free audit of their code and suggest improvements. If the customer has had even a slight degree of doubt about the current team, the results of your audit may become the key to winning their business.