Next week, I get the great opportunity to sit on a panel at HR Tech, hosted by my friend/ industry legend George LaRocque. The title is “Selecting the ‘Right’ HR Technology Solution Provider”, and it’s all about exactly what it says it’s about: how to pick partners.

Note that keyword: partners. When you’re evaluating software, the culture of the firms you’re looking at matters (and, unless it’s an absolutely innovative solution, there’s going to be a plural, and – yes – you should look at several of them before you buy). Think of it like… dating. Not to be a cynic (fine, that’s a lie, since that’s my default position), but the very best you’re going to get from a suitor comes at the beginning – the first date. They’re trying to make the best impression they can – and, it all goes downhill from there. Before you know it, you’re farting in front of each other, the door-holding tends to drop off, flowers turn into “I grabbed you a doughnut, too – what, you’re on a diet? Cool, more for me!”, you’re farting in front of each other even more often (Dutch Oven becomes a horrible, horrible morning game), etc etc.

So, if that first date/ tech demo is awful… consider the red flag at least partially raised.

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So, with software providers – pay attention to their approach, from the beginning. It matters. And, pay attention to how they treat you, throughout the process. Then, take the worst of that behavior, give it an X multiplier, and there you have it: a decent prediction of how they’re going to treat you after you sign the deal.

It’s not always pretty. You owe it to yourself to think long and hard about how much you actually want to date this vendor – are they so much better in… implementation? Is their data-set that big? Performance that much of a deal closer? Do you trust them with your security, with support, with meeting your parents? (Okay, that last one may never happen – and probably shouldn’t, as I think about it). Anyways: caveat emptor, hinc sequitur exin (or something like that – my high school Latin is so rusty it’s basically a pile of orange dust by now).

Oh, and I’m a-gonna close with a rant. Not gonna name names (rhymes with “fuse”…), but got a random email from a sales rep just now – someone I’ve never spoken to before, about a service I’ve never expressed interest in. So: not gauging my interest. No building rapport. Nope, just… an assumption that I’d be so interested in meeting some random VP of theirs, that I’d schedule a meeting during the conference, just days before it begins, since hey my dance card never fills weeks before a conference, nope, I’m just that fugly.

Because, yeah – wait… no flowers? Not even a doughnut? Just start right off with leaving the bathroom door open? And what’s that smell…

“Hi Martin – I wanted to see if you’re headed to Las Vegas for the HR tech conference next week. If so, would you be interested in speaking with our VP while you’re in town?

Scheduling time is quick and easy – feel free to check availability here.”