My wish list for information vendors

Wish list for information vendors

As an info pro/researcher/investigator, I use a lot of specialized database products for news, public records, and other info. As a result, I’ve had a chance to work with lots of database vendors, and, in my 15+ years in business, I’ve worked with some who are great at what they do and some who aren’t. Unfortunately, it’s been more of the latter than the former.

So, with input from some of my AIIP colleagues, I’ve put together this wish list for information vendors – 10 suggestions I’m sure will transform our relationships and lead to more sales:

 1. Accept that yours isn’t the only game in town – On a daily basis, I may use at least five or six databases for completing our background reports. I don’t care how great it is, your product will never replace my other professional tools, so tell me how yours works with or complements what I’m using.

 2. Follow up when you say you’re going to follow up – While attending a conference last week, I couldn’t get any face time with one of the vendors. I gave him my card and told him I definitely want a subscription. He said he’d call on Monday, and, as of today, I haven’t heard from him.

 3. But don’t harass me – I’m busy and sometimes can’t take time away from client work to discuss how your product will change my life. Find out when to check back, and respect my time frame.

 4. Get to know me – If you take a minute to look at my website, you’ll learn I run a small business and specialize in due diligence background investigations for investors. Don’t waste our time pitching an enterprise product or something more suited for a different industry.

 5. Offer flexible pricing models – Just about every one of my colleagues who responded to my query put this at the top of their wish list. Not all firms can afford an annual subscription or will use it enough to make it cost-effective, and some might be interested in daily, weekly, or pay-as-you-go access. Make it reasonable, though. A monthly pass shouldn’t cost almost as much as an annual subscription.

 6. Get your team on the same page – I’ve had one person tell me yes while another – in the same department – said no. And while we’re at it, why is “no” your best response? It looks chaotic, unprofessional, and inflexible from this end, and I’m reluctant to recommend your product.

 7. Be willing to negotiate – You can see how I’m using your product, so let’s use that info. Maybe I don’t need the full suite, so offer modules or other ways of slicing and dicing the content. On the other hand, maybe I use your product and refer others so often that I deserve a little break.

 8. Play fairly – While a little negotiation will go a long way, don’t cut a deal with one person that you aren’t willing to offer to others in similar situations. The information community is small, and we do talk to one another.

 9. Check in occasionally, and not just at renewal time –  Maybe my needs are changing, or, based on my use case, I’m not taking advantage of available features. One of the best at this was the late Bob Schmitt of Skyminder. Even though I wasn’t his biggest customer, he checked in regularly to see how things were going and fill me in on any upcoming product changes.

10. Remember that it’s not just about the sale – I may not become a buyer, but our relationship and what I learn from you will go a long way. Like many of my colleagues, I frequently speak and write about information trends and products, and, if I like what you’re selling, I will become your biggest evangelist.

What else would you add to this list?






  • I enjoy your “industry aware” blogs. Nice feedback for vendors that could extend to AIIP members as well. I’m working on a new outreach program for libraries with the Prince George’s County (MD) Memorial Library system. it could include a role for AIIP members to ballyhoo what business information services are available in libraries for use in the office with only a library card. Do you think aiip members could or would participate as occasional “Professional Info Mentors” to encourage use of these public library services as a way of introducing businesses to the power of their own information services? Aiip members probably wouldn’t lose business since businesses generally lack the skilled staff to do the information work. Would AIIP members recognize this mentor function as an entry to specific businesses to which aiip members would be introduced as qualified mentors? Thanks, Paul

    • Marcy Phelps /

      Thank you, Paul. I’m honored that you read and enjoy my blog posts. I think that some AIIP members might be interested in mentoring if it doesn’t take too much time away from our businesses. This may be an entry to new business, but, from my experience, not always. Some libraries are already doing this type of outreach on their own. I’m thinking about the Denver Public Library’s central library and their business librarian Dixie Malone, who does an incredible amount of outreach.

  • Spot on!!

    #1,3 and 5!

    Be generous in price to those coming up. They have time, but little money.
    Be considerate of those who have arrived. We will pay a fair price but don’t have time to waste.

    Great piece Marcy!

  • Marcy,
    This is a great article. I love #4 and would add that after you’ve reviewed my website, I hope you realize that I am not a novice and get rid of the sales doublespeak. If you can’t answer my questions, maybe someone on your development team can; bring the necessary people to the table.

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