Recommended Resources and Suppliers

Making Your Best Buying Decision
by Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC

We are all continually approached by people selling us things. If these people are unaffiliated with us, we are usually leery of their pitch. We're typically not so skeptical of kindred spirits, though. Sometimes, when we share our challenges with a colleague, we are met with offers of help in the way of products or perhaps coaching. We may also receive offers in the form of e-mail and/or direct mail from colleagues we know by name or reputation.

As business professionals, we understand the need to do appropriate due diligence before giving anyone a check or credit card, yet we tend to skip this step when considering purchasing something from a colleague. Consider the following before making any purchase.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I hope to get as a result of this purchase? (E.g., a formula for mega-book sales, a hot new book title, better storytelling skills, a more engaging presentation style.)
  • What evidence do I have that I will get that result from this purchase?
  • Who else has purchased this product/service from this supplier? (Make sure they purchased it rather than obtaining it free or as a trade, as that changes the dynamic. If you don't know someone you can talk to who purchased it, find out who has.)
  • What other options have I explored for getting the same outcome from other products/suppliers?
  • When talking to previous purchasers, what did they say they got as a result of the product/service? Is this the same as what I want, or did they have a completely different goal?
  • Am I at a point in my career where I'll get the full value out of this product/service? Is the product mainly helpful to those who have reached a more advanced place in the speaking/training/consulting business?
  • Has the supplier done his/her homework in making sure the product/service is for me? Has s/he asked me enough questions about my business, product, goals, and situation?
  • Are the results from this product/service something I can get through attending an SNN teleseminar, listening to a teleseminar CD or tape, posting a question on SNN?

Ask others:

  • Ask at least three veterans about this supplier and/or the product/service s/he is offering.
  • Does this person have a good reputation for supplying quality products/services? What is the "buzz" about his/her services? Have you heard good things from others -- not just from the supplier?
  • If you were looking for the same result, would you consider buying this product/service from this person? Why or why not? If not, who would you go to instead?
  • Do you know anyone who has purchased this supplier's speaker-related products/services? If so, who? (Then call or email those people mentioned.)
  • Does this supplier know what they're talking about with regard to this product/service? (For example, s/he is a horrible storyteller, but is offering storytelling coaching? Went bankrupt, but is offering financial/business coaching? Hasn't ever really made it as a speaker but is offering coaching on how you can? Has never had a bestseller, but is offering consultations on how to do so?)

Keep in mind that not all great coaches were superstars. After all, Joe Montana's quarterback coach wasn't an MVP. Tiger Woods' coach never won the Masters. But at least know that going into the relationship.

Ask the supplier:

  • Can you supply me with the names of six people who have purchased your services/products at full price, not as part of a barter agreement, reduced price, or for free. Who have you worked with (or are using this)?
  • What are your guarantees? How long is the guarantee good for? How long have you offered this guarantee? How many people have taken you up on it? Why? Who are they and how can I contact them?
  • Are you willing to put in writing that if I am unhappy with what is provided, you will make it good in a way that is mutually acceptable?