We are all continually approached by people selling us things. If these people are unaffiliated with us, we are typically leery of their pitch. However, we’re often not so skeptical of kindred spirits. 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 email 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 asking the following questions before making any purchase.
Questions to 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 result that 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? Would the product or service be more helpful to those who have reached a more advanced place in the speaking business?
- Has the supplier done his or her homework in making sure the product or service is for me? Has s/he asked me enough questions about my business, product, goals and situation?
- Are the results I’m looking for from this product/service something I can get through attending NSA meetings, joining my local chapter and attending chapter meetings or joining a chapter mentor program, or simply by creating relationships with more experienced speakers?
- Does the person I’m considering hiring as a coach or consultant truly understand and demonstrate expertise of the subject? Are they able to demonstrate success in their own business?
Questions to Ask Others:
Ask at least three veteran speakers about the supplier and/or the product/service s/he is offering.
- Does this company or person have a good reputation for supplying quality products/services? What is the “hallway buzz” about their services?
- If you were looking for the same result I’m seeking, 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 e-mail those people mentioned.)
Questions to Ask the Supplier:
- Can you supply me with six people who have purchased your services/products at full price, not as part of a barter agreement, reduced price or for free? What CSPs, CPAEs and/or other NSA members have you worked with? What other members are using this product?
- 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?