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Virtual courting site for selecting vendors?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a site like eHarmony© where financial institutions could find vendors who are compatible with them? For all I know it already exists, as these days there seems to be an app for every conceivable thing under the sun. (However, if someone steals this idea and makes millions, I want something for the thought.) This new wave of compatibility algorithms makes me wonder: how in the heck can a banker confidently decide which vendor to partner with, when they’re all slingin’ the same buzz words and promising the moon while clickin’ through fancy demos?

Even if there isn’t a solution similar to a dating website, there is something valuable about approaching the vendor-buyer relationship like, well, a relationship. That’s why the best way to determine compatibility is to actually pay the vendor a visit.

Maybe this seems like an obvious answer, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is get swept up in the ceremony of sales pitch.

In fact, several years ago I heard a salesman tell a banker something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The banker repeatedly mentioned how slick one of the salesman’s competitor’s demo was. The salesman politely, yet confidently, replied, “With all due respect, these days two guys and a twelve pack in a college dorm room can create a pretty sweet demo.” You couldn’t argue his point— just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t, and shouldn’t, judge a software solution by its demo.

It’s an unfortunate truth in the sales industry that sometimes reps don’t always shoot straight. Believe it or not, I once lost a deal to a competitor who did not even have an interface to the core processor of the bank whose business we were competing for, yet told the bank they had nine referenceable clients for that particular core. Nine! I don’t know how they settled on nine as the magic number, but I guess if you’re going to lie, lie big! I always wondered why this bank never attempted to call any of the references to confirm whether they were happy with the vendor, or to see if they even existed. Sadly, sometimes the folks tasked with the due diligence have motives of their own, which is another powerful reason for why you should pay the companies you’re considering partnering with a visit.

I mean, why wouldn’t you? You’re about to invest a tidy sum of dollars and putting your personal reputation, the company’s brand, shareholders’ interests and, in many cases, the welfare of your account holders on the line. Heck, on multiple occasions I’ve had animal shelters visit my house to make sure the dog I wanted to adopt would be in good hands and they didn’t leave a single stone unturned. In my time at Q2, I’ve interviewed lots of our clients, and the last question I’ve asked them all is, “Why did you ultimately decide to partner with Q2?” Remarkably, nearly every one of them told me the same thing: “It was your people and your culture.” How else can you gain a sense of those things without paying the company a visit? Or know for sure that the company you’re considering isn’t in fact two guys and a twelve pack in a college dorm room?

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