Great vendor relationships are priceless. I recently was provided a priceless gift by one of my strategic vendors. Gary Smith, EVP of Sales for Cigniti provided me with an old school red phone. To the average person getting this gift would be somewhat appreciated, it is the message behind the phone that speaks volumes about the great vendor relationship I have with Cigniti.
As VP of QA, I get several emails a week from multiple vendors claiming they have the best companies with the best resources in the industry. Over the years I have learned that most companies in fact have similar players with the same caliber of resources. What is significantly different is the way strategic vendors interact with their customers. Cigniti is deliberate in the way they treat me as a customer. My ideas and opinions are valued and they are willing to listen. Vendors I have used in the past have a cookie cutter approach to all customers, and the thought process is if it works with one, then it should work with all. This idea is extremely flawed because all customers are different and they should be treated differently.
With any vendor it takes time to build trust and transparency. That trust and transparency results in two groups working together for one common goal: success of the company. When the honeymoon is over (and that time will come) having trust and transparency will allow the great vendor relationship to remain strong. During this time, there will be days where you will have to pick up the phone to ensure you remain connected and have transparent conversations. The critical piece is that those conversations must take place, even when those might be difficult. If you can’t have those conversations, then the relationship will suffer and become unhealthy. If you are at a point when you think you need to move in a different direction and find another vendor you need to be able to have the courage to move forward.
I am extremely lucky to have a great vendor relationship. This will help me and my company be successful.