This is another in a seven-post series on how to choose the right creative service provider (writer, designer, photographer, etc.) for your business or organization. This advice is based on what I’ve seen companies do the wrong way over the years. Hope you enjoy and find it useful!

In business, most of us are judged not on how eagerly we try, but on how well we perform. You should expect no less from a prospective creative services provider. The primary focus of their work should be to support their clients’ business efforts, not to beef up their own portfolios. That’s why you should ask about challenges the supplier has solved for other clients.

Look for specifics, particularly where results are concerned. There’s a big difference between “I think the ad worked pretty well” and “the ad increased sales by 26 percent during the campaign.” Listen for both candor and enthusiasm. The supplier should be proud of a job well done, and he or she should speak favorably and respectfully of the client.

While many creative services providers may be sole practitioners, very few projects are actually solo endeavors. Even if the provider isn’t pairing up with those who have complementary talents, he or she is usually working with one or more client contacts. That’s why it’s okay (and positive) for a supplier to share the limelight. In fact, hearing comments about how “we worked together” or “this person had the basic idea, and I expanded upon it” are excellent, because they signal both a collaborative spirit and a willingness to be honest in a situation where selfishly grabbing credit is the norm. On the other hand, a lot of “I did this” and “I did that” or bad-mouthing past clients are warning signs.

Learn more in our free report, The Smarter Strategy for Selecting Suppliers, which offers practical, proven advice for choosing the right creative service providers. Get your free copy!