Three Tips for Choosing Partners, Not Vendors

Recent Merkle research discovered that a significant frustration for business owners today is working with vendors who are stuck on pushing their products and services as opposed to genuinely meeting their business needs. Any business owner with experience handling vendors knows that the most symbiotic partnerships occur when a vendor is uniquely interested in solving problems and not just selling products.

So how does an informed business owner avoid getting into these types of toxic vendor relationships? We put together a few tips:

Interview Them Like a Potential Employee

The most productive vendor/vendee relationships are long term and win-win for both parties. This means initial conversations should be approached as seriously as they would be for a potential new-hire or business partner. Does the vendor focus entirely on themselves? Are they asking the right questions? Do they seem interested in the needs and goals of your company? These are all key things to pay attention to during the first conversations with prospective vendors.

Outline Goals, Budgets and Growth Strategies

With future growth front of mind, it’s critical to choose partners that understand your business goals and have the capacity to grow with your business. It can be a very fulfilling exercise to compare notes with a potential vendor to see if their company shares similar values and growth strategies. Going into the search process with budgets, goals and future growth outlined will help provide perspective for both you and potential partners.

References, References, References

This cannot be stressed enough, obtaining references for anybody you are considering establishing a long term business relationship with is simply the responsible thing to do. It is important to get references for a vendor on the phone, prepared with a short list of thought provoking questions. Getting clear answers on timing, reliability and trustworthiness will help you make the best decision for your business. This practice should never be looked down upon, it’s business not personal.

Doing your due diligence in the search process of choosing vendors will pay off in volumes later on, giving you a solid foundation for your business.

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