How do we manage our partnerships with customers and vendors when supporting a number of different, and sometimes competing technologies?
Written by: James Longley
As a partner we tend to find ourselves being sold to almost as much as we are out there pitching. In a world of an ever changing technology landscape, the question is how do you find confidence in what you bring to customers and how you manage the ongoing partnerships with your technology partners?
The truth is that sales people are driven by targets and that is a fundamental problem in vendor land. A drive to provide a solution that really benefits a customer is overshadowed by the necessity to attribute figures to a quarter or push a product that pays.
But what happens in the instance you have pitched a product or solution and subsequently you find a better way to meet a requirement? Potentially you could lose the trust of the customer by introducing them to an alternative at that point, and in addition harm a relationship with a vendor or add unnecessary complexity to a situation.
The importance of building strong lasting relationships
So how can you get the best outcome for a customer without seeming pushy and help a partner accurately forecast back to their business? How do you manage a situation whereby you introduce technology to a prospect who wants to then procure that through another partner, despite working with you to piece together the solution?
The answer to all the above points is relatively simple, essentially it all starts by striving to be a good partner and building strong long lasting relationships. The cliché that a customer’s needs come first is of course the most basic principle of why partners exist. We are there to evaluate and support technology based on the requirements of our customers and essentially nothing else should matter and in reality any politics with vendors will cease to be a factor when this is the case.
Honesty is the best policy, and being clear to all involved about what you are doing and why, is the easiest way to maintain strong, strategic and mutually beneficial relationships. Cutting out the politics is a powerful way to establish trust on all sides.
The notion of reciprocal sharing of opportunities whereby “you bring me one and I will bring you one back” or “we get this one and the flood gates will open” is frankly somewhat of a myth. In actuality it is never going to be a good long term strategy as it’s impossible to build a business based on that principle. It’s far easier to know the reasons why you chose to support the technology that you do, in turn articulating that back to all involved can be done so with confidence and without hesitation.
The key to delivering excellence
Essentially to get to this point as a partner you absolutely rely on your team and believe, without question that you have the right people around you, making the right decisions to deliver on the commitments you make. If you expect to be trusted it’s imperative that you trust those you work alongside. It is implicitly the reason why customers and vendors chose to invest in your organisation.
Naturally, your position will constantly change and evolve as will the people you work with. But by applying the basic principles of being humble, honest and caring about the customer needs first, navigating your way through a potential minefield will become a walk in the park.
You should always be looking to take the initiative, remain positive, be able to provide clarity and allow time to reflect, as this will all lead to delivering excellence.