In the business world, choosing a vendor is akin to choosing a mate. And anyone who's ever been on a bad date knows how important -- and how difficult -- that is.
"Choosing from the sea of vendors wanting to work with your organization can be overwhelming," says Entrepreneur.com contributor Greg Hong. "Asking yourself what you want in a partner is a great first step, but sorting out the answer to this question can be challenging."
Identifying the right vendor starts with reviewing candidates' qualifications, experience, and service offerings. The secret ingredient, however, is alignment, suggests Hong, who says the most aligned partners are typically the most engaged ones.
"You and your potential new partner should be on the same page about what the project is, what you need them for and what you'd like to achieve by working together. In order to be clear about how you'll work together, it's important to choose a collaborative partner. For some, that means a partner that visits often to learn about you, what's important to you, and how you run your business," explains Hong, who suggests looking for vendors who spend time getting to know your business inside and out before selling you a solution. "When a vendor cares about learning about your business and wants to know your long-term interests, it's likely you'll be aligned on the project and define the success of the partnership in the same way."