If you are comparing companies to outsource to over a longer period of time and interacting with them regularly, which one do you pick? In my experience, I want to know which company gives me valuable and reliable information. But, that is not good enough. When people are trying, they try to impress you. I want to know how helpful people are when they are not trying. If you get to know a company over a period of six or more months, you get to the point where they are not trying so hard. In my experience, people stop trying after three or four months and then you get to know the real them — at least if you are working on projects with them.
Some salespeople tell you whatever you want to hear. Unfortunately, I’m very sensitive to that. If you promise anything, I doubt that you will keep any of your promises. Unfortunately once again, in my experience, even those that make more reasonable promises don’t fulfill them 95% of the time either. So, in the promises game just like the information game, reliable information wins the game. If you make a promise, there needs to be some way to verify that you keep the promise for your company to get a reliability rating in my book — especially for programmers who are systematically unreliable.
One truthful thing for salespeople to do is to not answer questions right away. If you ask a complicated question, it looks good if you ask a technical manager to get an answer or to help you formulate an answer. It looks like you are doing your homework. Another good thing for a salesperson to do is to make very cautious promises. The idea is that you make sure you can keep the promise otherwise your whole reputation goes downhill. For managers, it makes sense to tape record what salespeople are saying, so you can fire them if they are telling lies — unless you want them to tell lies. But, if you want your company to have a good reputation in the long run, tell the trush — always. Because truth builds trust!