The Vendor Conference
Now that you've put the fear of God in your team by demanding that they meet your high expectations (things like working a full work day or not tearing into each other), it is time to find out what everybody is made of.
In each functional area, invite the vendor that supports that area for a one day or two day conference. You pay the vendor for their time. You invite the staff that manage the functional area to participate --- everything is transparent, you don't betray trust by having a hidden agenda.
The conference is designed to illustrate what your staff know about their functional area. It is also designed to illustrate what your vendor knows about their area of expertise. Your staff are required to present their processes and results to the vendor. The vendor is required to present "best practices" to you and your staff.
More than anything, you get to see if your staff have what it takes to succeed. You get to see if your vendor is capable of being a "strategic partner". You get to benchmark yourself against competitors.
Don't be stingy --- invite every vendor you have, be it your co-ops, your e-mail vendor, the folks you outsource your database to, your catalog request fulfillment house, your paid search vendor, your statistical modeling joint, bring 'em all in.
It will probably take three or four months to get through your "conferences". Your staff are likely to rebel against you, suggesting that since you set such high expectations, they don't have time for this garbage. Your vendor is likely to not meet your expectations --- they may send the sales force instead of sending the CEO or EVP that you really need to meet (hint, that tells you something about the vendor).
Your job is to gather information, information that will shape the future of your database marketing department.
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