Vendors are a nuisance. I know. I’ve been a nuisance. When you are a prospect a vendor tries to get to your schedule. Your time is precious. You want to protect your schedule. You set up defenses and hurdles to protect you from vendors who want your business. There are obviously some snakes of dubious character out there and you really do need to protect yourself.
Some management training programs actually teach techniques to block vendor access and to pit them against each other as well as questionable techniques to get lower prices. It can be quite vicious.
I’ve had the pleasure to work with the most professional, genuinely great people in my career. As a vendor I’ve partnered with executives to do some really great things together.
I want to be sure you are having these great vendor experiences too.
You see, I think in some organizations the spirit of that gauntlet vendors must traverse carries over beyond the sales process into the actual working relationship.
For example, would a leader be inaccessible when a top high performing team member needs them? Would a leader not inform a key employee about a political landmine to be avoided as they work on a sensitive issue? Would a leader not introduce that key employee to others in the organization that can help them get things done?
A vendor must be successful in order for you to be successful. Why would we not treat a vendor working on a key initiative to the same access, resources, and relationship that a key employee would have?
I asked a leader that question once and they said, “The vendor is being paid more than I am, they should be able to figure it out. And if they fail I’ll just find someone else.” This leader really doesn’t know what he’s missing. How sad for his organization.
Clearly you must trust your vendors. That’s what the gauntlet is for to identify if you can have a trusting partner relationship. The vendor has to perform. They have to be the right vendor. You pay them. You must see evidence of high performance. If that trust doesn’t develop move on because quickly the partnership must begin.
Of course the vendor has to continue to prove themselves but so do you. Remember it’s not a pass/fail test environment. You’re both trying to successfully accomplish a goal. It’s a partnership.
Understand your vendor. Take an interest. Think long term relationship. It’s in your best interest to do so.
To do this week: Analyze your vendor relationships. What can you do to increase the level of partnership?
Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.