When businesses think about vendors, they often think of them as transactional relationships. The vendor provides a service or product, and the business pays for it. However, vendors can be so much more than that – they can become valuable partners that help businesses grow and succeed.
The key to turning vendors into partners is to foster strong relationships and open lines of communication. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
Turning your vendor relationships into partnerships
- Be transparent and clear about your expectations From the very beginning of your vendor relationship, it’s important to be transparent and clear about your expectations. This includes everything from the scope of work to pricing to communication expectations. The more transparent you are, the more likely you are to build trust with your vendor and create a foundation for a long-term partnership.
- Communicate regularly. Regular communication is key to building a strong vendor partnership. Don’t just check in when you need something – make a point to touch base regularly and keep your vendor updated on your business’s needs and goals. This will help your vendor stay aligned with your business’s priorities and be better equipped to provide solutions that meet your needs.
- Provide feedback. Feedback is essential to any successful relationship, including vendor partnerships. If you’re not happy with the level of service or quality of work you’re receiving, be sure to communicate that to your vendor. Similarly, if you’re really pleased with something, let them know. Providing feedback can help your vendor understand your needs and preferences better and can lead to improvements in the quality of their work.
- Invest in your vendor relationship. Just like any relationship, your vendor partnership will require investment from both sides. This could mean investing time in regular check-ins, investing money in additional training or resources, or investing in other ways to improve the partnership. By showing your vendor that you’re committed to the partnership, you’ll encourage them to do the same.
- Look for opportunities to collaborate. One of the best ways to turn vendors into partners is to look for opportunities to collaborate. This could mean working together on a project, co-creating content, or even hosting joint events. Collaborating with your vendor can help you both learn from each other, build stronger relationships, and drive better results.
- Provide opportunities for growth If you want to turn vendors into long-term partners, you need to provide opportunities for growth. This could mean offering additional work or projects, providing referrals to other businesses, or even helping your vendor develop new skills or services. By investing in your vendor’s growth and success, you’ll build a strong foundation for a long-term partnership.
- Celebrate successes. Finally, it’s important to celebrate successes with your vendor. Whether it’s hitting a milestone or achieving a specific goal, taking the time to recognize and celebrate successes can help build a positive relationship and encourage your vendor to continue delivering high-quality work.
How to get the most out of your outside partnerships?
01. Engage at the leadership level
We talk a lot with our client-partners about ensuring they get the “A” team from their suppliers and vendors. It’s important to make sure you have the right people in place to help drive success. But the next level of partnership goes even further than that. It involves engaging the leadership team of your suppliers and vendors.
The leadership team at your suppliers and vendors is as strategic as your own team. They understand your sector and spend as much, if not more, time thinking about go-to-market strategies. They understand the nuances of the market and how best to position your products and services.
When you engage your supplier’s leadership team, you open up the door to a host of opportunities. It allows your suppliers to become more involved in the decision-making process and to take ownership of the success of your product or service. It also allows for better collaboration and communication between the two of you.
The leadership team at your suppliers and vendors can help you identify new opportunities and develop strategies for taking advantage of them. They can also provide valuable insights into the competitive landscape and how best to compete with other players in the market. By having an understanding of the current market trends, your suppliers and vendors can give you a leg up on your competition.
Engaging the leadership team of your suppliers and vendors also allows for more efficient decision-making. You can trust their advice, as they’ve likely worked with other clients in the past and understand what works and what doesn’t.
At the end of the day, engaging the leadership team of your suppliers and vendors is a great way to strengthen the relationships between you and your partners. It creates trust and allows you to work together to make the best decisions for your business.
Partnering with your suppliers and vendors on a strategic level is the key to success. It allows you to leverage their expertise and to capitalize on emerging trends. When you engage your supplier’s leadership team, you’re paving the way for a more successful future for your business.
02. Use their diverse knowledge as a research input
When developing your go-to-market strategies, leadership teams often rely heavily on third-party research for their primary data. While this is certainly a wise choice, it’s important to remember that the insights gained from third-party research can only tell you so much. It can provide a general overview of the market size and trends, but it cannot give you the detailed information necessary to implement a successful go-to-market strategy.
That’s where engaging your partners can be beneficial. While third-party research will provide you with the general answer to your questions, your partners will be able to apply their sector knowledge to your specific business objectives. This can give you greater insight into the market, the specific customer needs, the competitive landscape, and more.
Partner research is an invaluable tool when developing your go-to-market strategies. By leveraging the insights of your partners, you can gain a better understanding of the market and a more targeted approach to developing your strategy.
When engaging your partners, consider the following:
- What unique knowledge or insights can they bring to the table?
- What experience do they have in your sector or industry?
- What data or insights do they have that could inform your go-to-market decisions?
- What trends, market changes, or customer needs have they identified that you haven’t?
When developing your go-to-market strategies, don’t rely solely on third-party research. Leverage the insights and experience of your partners to gain a better understanding of the market and develop a more targeted and effective strategy.
.03 Give context
The cost-saving benefits of outsourcing talent and vendors are undeniable. Companies of all sizes are taking advantage of the opportunity to save money, while still gaining access to specialized skillsets and industry knowledge. However, a fatal mistake that we often see organizations make when utilizing outsourced talent or vendors is that they fail to engage them as part of their team.
This practice of “mushroom management” keeps vendors and outsourced talent isolated from the team, only providing them with specific tasks and expecting them to deliver results without any context or insight into the company’s overall goals. This practice is short-sighted and can have a detrimental effect on the company’s growth strategy.
Instead of keeping vendors and outsourced talent isolated, companies should make an effort to engage them just as they would any other team member. This includes inviting them to team meetings, team events, and even after-hours get-togethers. This allows vendors and outsourced talent to gain a better understanding of the company’s goals and objectives and provides them with the context to understand how their tasks fit into the overall plan.
In addition to giving outsourced talent and vendors the context to better understand how their tasks fit into the bigger picture, this kind of engagement also helps to foster a sense of loyalty and partnership. This improved connection can lead to better performance, increased productivity, and better results, which is beneficial for everyone involved.
By engaging vendors and outsourced talent as members of the team, companies can ensure the success of their business goals. Outsourcing is a great way to save money, but only if it is done right. To do that, it is essential that companies avoid the “mushroom management” mentality and make an effort to engage vendors and outsourced talent as part of the team.
Turning vendors into partners is all about building strong relationships and fostering open lines of communication. By investing in your vendor partnerships, you can create valuable partnerships that help your business grow and succeed.
Whether it’s your tech suppliers, marketing agencies, or sales enablement vendors, most CEOs don’t maximize the value sitting right under their noses. If your business is like most, you’re spending a significant portion of capital on outsourcing critical functions within your organization. If you’re like most leadership teams, you push the management of those vendors down to middle management. Who has the time?