partners versus vendors

One word that gets tossed around in business a lot right now is “partnership.”  Everyone seems to want to be your partner.  Your customers want a “partner” that will help them grow.  And your vendors want to be that “trusted partner” that is your go-to solution for what they offer.

We throw the word around a lot…but we don’t mean it.

For example, if you are looking to purchase a solution or a product, are you treating your contacts like a partner or a vendor?  Both are fine.  But just like anything else, if you say one thing and do another, trust breaks down.  What do I mean?

As a customer, you likely feel the need to find the best price.  All of your service providers get that.  But when you pit them against each other, time and time again, you don’t have a partner.  You have vendors.

If you take the specs from one company and give them to another to quote, you don’t have a partner.  You have vendors.

As I said, both are fine.  But partnerships are created from communication and trust.  And that trust goes both ways.  If you want someone that will help you craft a solution or to help you create a long term plan for your success, a partnership is often the best relationship to make that happen.  If you treat your “trusted parters” like vendors, you don’t get that.  They will always be “half in” on creativity and ideas because they know you are just as likely to walk away (or worse yet, steal your idea and take it to the competition).  You will likely save a few dollars on the front end.  But you strain the relationship in the process.  It’s your choice.

Vendors need to back up their words too.

On the other side, those in sales need to act like partners if they want to be treated like one.  If you are constantly looking for the short term sale, you are acting like a vendor.  And of course if you act like a vendor, your customers will treat you like one.  The best partners in our business act like partners.  They spend the time to understand our challenges and goals.  In doing so, they can offer the best solutions for our needs.  You only know those solutions by really getting to know the business.

It takes time to dig in that deep.  It’s not a short term sale.  It’s a long term relationship where we are both invested in the overall success.  That is what a partnership looks like.  So don’t call it that if you are not willing to put in that work.

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing, a full service marketing agency located in Ohio.  Learn more about Hasseman Marketing here.  And if you are interested in have him speak at your next event, you can learn more here.

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