Are You a Partner or a Vendor?

I have to admit that I have a problem being called a “vendor.” Yes, I have been a supplier of products since 1982, but I always viewed my business/services as being solutions to my customers’ needs. I have worked hard to find ways to add value that would contribute to improving their process or sales. I do not want to be viewed as a vendor; I want to be viewed as a partner in their business. The vendor drops off a product with an invoice and says, “Thank you for your business!” A partner cares about the customer’s business, gets involved, and looks for ways to make a difference.

Trust is at the center of the partnership between supplier and customer. In my opinion it is required — not just nice to have. Trust makes the supplier’s recommendations actionable. Trust cannot be over-emphasized, and the chart below that was posted on LinkedIn by Reyes Velasco speaks volumes!

So please … no more Vendor Outings and Vendor Appreciation Days. Let’s start calling them Partner Outings and Partner Appreciation Days. If you feel your suppliers are not partners, then you may want to take a look at what they are really bringing to the table. Go ahead and “bid” a vendor’s business for short-term economic advantages, but “partner” with your valued suppliers for sustainable growth.