Friday, April 22, 2005

Vendors need to talk!

My graduate students, some of which are already working in libraries, completed an assignment where they had to gather information on digitization vendors in their geographic region. Some had a hard time finding vendors, because there are none in their region. Some found vendors, but the vendors wouldn't talk to them. Do the students want proprietary information? No. They only want to understand what the vendor does and who they do it for. The assignment allows them to see the real world. I won't recount all of the stories, except one. A student encountered a vendor who would give her his contact information.

What the vendors don't realize is that these "students" will be their clients. (Some may already be in a position to recommend digitization vendors to their organizations.) These are students who want to work in digital libraries and be involved in digitization projects. Thus providing just a little information could help to land a client for the vendor later on.

Thankfully, there are some vendors who will willingly talk to anyone. There are also vendors who have placed detailed and helpful information on their web sites. (A side note - some vendors were not contacted because their web sites were not professional looking.)

If you're a vendor and you have taken time to explain what you do to someone who is not handing you an RFI/RFP, thank you! You have helped to educate someone who may turn into a client or who may refer you to someone else.

As the saying going, you never know where you next client will come from.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

Great post and very good advice! I remember when I was at the ALA Annual conference last year as a student, as soon as some vendors heard I was a student, they lost interest in talking to me. They missed a great opportunity to reach a potential future client who had few preconceived notions about the different vendors' offerings (but who now remembers that specific vendor quite negatively). On the other hand, I discussed a certain library-related software product on my blog once and someone from the company emailed me and asked me what I’d like to see changed in their software. How’s that for customer service!