Vendor, Supplier, Or Strategic Partner

“What do you do with vendors? You beat up on them”.

I have a good friend who likes to look for logical and fun triads. Three things or ideas that go together or express a spectrum of a thought. I’ll have to share with him this one: vendor, supplier, and partner. If you are in business, you have customers. Sometimes you call them clients or patients, but you have customers. Now, the question is, how do they view you? How do they treat you? I have a simple and straight forward model that describes the scope of relationships you can have with your customers. The big question is, how do they view you? Do they see you as a “vendor”, a “supplier”, or a “strategic partner?” See the chart below:

In my consulting practice, I am a strategic partner with my clients

W hy is it important to carefully frame how you work with your customers? If you want to get beaten up on and take a lot of abuse, act and work like a vendor. If you want to compete on price and be the cheapest, good luck to you. If you want to be a good reliable supplier, nothing special, treat your customers that way. If you want to work closely with your customer and help them grow THEIR business by thinking like they do, become a strategic partner with them. I have had multiple month-to-month 10+ years of consulting relationships with a number of clients by following this dictate. It’s good to be a partner.