Partner With Your Vendors
A few years ago, vendor “partnerships” were all the buzz. Then confusion about the lingo developed, and corporate attorneys grew concerned about the inference of equity from the word. As a result, usage died down. But the spirit of the term should be alive and well in your company.
The days of keeping all your information close to the vest and trying to extract every cent out of a vendor contract without regard to a long-term relationship should be long gone. Instead, foster a spirit of cooperation and mutual success, because if both parties aren’t making money, the relationship soon will be over.
In my experience, nurturing partnerships with your vendors — from printers to list managers to insurance carriers — will pay big dividends. Nurturing doesn’t mean you’re giving away the keys to the corporate treasure chest. It just means you’re sharing opportunity, risks, ideas and most importantly, information. It’s all of these things together that produce not only a mutually beneficial economic relationship, but a human relationship as well.
Following is an example of how sharing information and risk created a brand new opportunity for my company and one of our key vendors. Perhaps it will spawn ideas you can apply to your own situation.
It started during a trade show I attended in Las Vegas. I was having dinner with some reps from one of our largest vendors, and we discussed the vendor’s current overall performance. The reps admitted their business with department stores was down, and they wanted to talk about ways to increase business with my company.
I wasn’t sure how to increase the vendor’s share of our current offering, so I suggested we think of something new to layer on top of our current efforts. I also asked if the vendor might share some of the risk if we did so.