This is the second post in the Vendor-Client Relationship series. The below post was a joint collaboration with Kyle Henderick, who works on the vendor side for Alterian, a marketing technology and research firm. You can connect with Kyle on Twitter at @khenderick.
The vendor-client relationship is a dynamic one that if not maintained properly can lead to unsuccessful business endeavors by both sides. The client wants technology to drive results and report success, while the vendor wants to retain and keep clients happy.
So, how can the vendor-client relationship be strong and fruitful for both sides?
Tip 1. Be Open to Communication and Form a Concrete Partnership Through Listening
Vendor: Listen to your clients and/or partners’ suggestions.
Listening can exponentially help drive business to the next level when implemented properly. The clients and partners are using your technology, so though the vendor may be blind to the “areas for improvement,” the client will not be. They will provide you with honest feedback and thus help develop and take your software to the next level. Certain items that may seem like small fixes will help client retention and can lead to future selling points for your prospects.
Client: Alert the vendor to issues and opportunities for growth.
Don’t wait until an hour before the deadline to alert the vendor to an issue or quick fix. It is usually apparent hours before deadline that something is amiss or isn’t working. Alerting the vendor to issues isn’t a weakness, nor does it mean you do not understand the product. Sometimes, technology fails. Work with a vendor as a partner, and let them know of things you like what can improve the experience. This means asking the client for feedback when it comes to reports, results and the status of projects.
Tip 2. Have an End Goal in Mind and Know How To Build on the Foundation
Vendor: Stick to your strengths and develop them.
The tech industry is all about what’s next, but companies are often mislead to try and implement all the “bells and whistles” that are not at the core of their technology. Understanding what differentiators your clients see in your technology and continuing to strengthen those will not only continue to enhance your relationship, but also show an understanding of how your client is utilizing your technology.
Client: Don’t expect miracles right off the bat.
It’s easy to get caught up in a vendor presentation and case study examples. The best way to be prepared when entering a vendor agreement is to know what objectives the client has off the bat. This sets realistic expectations with all parties involved, including the end result of the client. Setting realistic expectations and understanding bandwidth is something agencies can struggle with if they aren’t smart about it.
Tip 3. Use All Aspects of the Thought Process
Vendor: Be accessible and provide industry knowledge.
You need to bend over backwards for the client, whether you like it or not. No matter what industry you are in, there is a competitor out there looking to steal your business. This means you need to have areas of your business dedicated to making your clients life easier, but this doesn’t mean that having a support team is simply enough.
- Showcase what other clients are doing well when possible.
- Update them on new functionality via a newsletters and emails.
- Send articles of interest specifically catered to their needs and what interests them.
- Send webinars outside of your own that fall into industry specific or sector specific.
Client: Have thought leadership sessions with your client and vendor.
A great vendor will provide thought leadership and know your skill level. They will push you to think outside of set objectives and to make reporting better. If it’s a true partnership, bring in your vendor and have a few brainstorm sessions with the client. This isn’t to say an agency doesn’t get it, but that the agency, vendor, and client want to create the best end result for the task at hand. The client needs to have the education and understanding of the buy-in, not just take the agency at their word. The client can then provide insight from their side.
These are just a few ways that the client-vendor relationship can be formed into a true partnership. Would you add anything?