How to Get the Most Out of Your Vendors
In my current position I deal with countless companies, dealers, vendors, and departments. Each of which are reaching out for assistance, pushing their own agenda, or trying to sell something. If not careful, meetings can take up 9 hours of an 8 hour workday! Because of this constant barrage of people wanting your time, it is easy to lose focus of what they actually have to offer and treat them as a nuisance instead of seeing them as an asset. Not all are genuine and you do have to filter some of the obvious BS, but the rest deserve an honest evaluation. Once you know who is genuine, be an asset to them and I guarantee you both will benefit more.
Be an Asset, Not an Ass!
Too many people treat vendors as time wasters and a necessary evil that headquarters mandate that you deal with. After you’ve already decided to do business together, you should view them as partners and aim to give them value instead of focusing only on what they can do for you. Trying to establish your dominance in the relationship will not motivate them to help. Keep in mind that they have your business because they proved that they can provide a service better than what you could do on your own! I always aim to treat them as partners and focus the relationship on how WE can move business forward together.
Here are the 5 keys to ensure a successful partnership for both parties:
1. Be an Asset, Not an Ass! This is simple. Don’t be controlling and rude to the people you work with or work for you! The people that like you will work with you best and bring you opportunities that the “haters” will never see.
2. Meet the Team. You will likely know the local rep, but there are a slew of people working on your account back at the home office. If it is a large and important partnership for your business, visit their headquarters to see the operation and meet the people working on your account. Putting a face to the name really does provide huge value, especially if they like you.
3. Spread your Vision. This is perhaps the most important tool in a successful B2B relationship. Make sure they are aware of how your company is positioned in the market place, challenges you face, recent successes, and exactly what you expect from the relationship. This is a must for your key account contacts, but really should be done in an informal meeting with the entire team. The more they know the more they can help you achieve your goals!
4. Data. Data. Data. Share as much data as possible (non-confidential of course). Don’t let them fly blind when trying to provide you a service or product that you need.
5. Celebrate! When you reach milestones with the partnership and start seeing progress, take a moment to thank the team and celebrate the success. Think Ice Cream Party! This is also another great opportunity to get in front of the entire team and optimize the partnership based on what you already know.
What a novel concept…help them help you!
Take Action Today
Look at other departments or vendors that you interact with. Do they know what you really expect or need from the relationship? Take a moment to reach out to the entire team and re-align your goals and share some data with them. Most of all, be an asset to their business when they are trying to help you!