Healthy Vendor-Partner Relationships Require Trust

Most organizations struggle with their vendor-partner relationships. When both get it right, it means considerable gains in sales, services, market share, and brand reach. Yet today, the vendor-partner relationship dynamic is often transactional, unceremonious, and stale. Something is missing. Both vendor and partner spend insurmountable sums of time and energy protecting, defending and negotiating – yet rarely on consequential strategy and planning. The effort, determination, and struggle for progress ultimately translate to monthly chores. Vendor CAMs and PAMs tussle and scrap to get closer, become more involved, add value, and then rely on hope. Partner salespeople are spread thin with too many products and not enough selling time. Months, quarters, and years fly by with fatiguing tactics, campaigns, and unchanged activities. Maybe it’s an updated MOU, additional MDF, and another training cycle. Is it time to pivot and change course? Vendors and partners must make a conscious effort and move toward a more often, significant, strategic commitment – based on trust.

“Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.”

– Isaac Watts

The key to meaningful partner relationships starts with genuine trust. It takes both sides to develop and evolve into a true partnership. Vendors and partners should feel free to share data, discuss concerns, and collaborate in a real-time, open, safe environment. Trust can start with strategic planning sessions initiated by either side to mutually grow the business – rather than transacting another sale. Then, both sides can take the lead, bust down barriers, work on authentic chemistry, assume some risk, and learn from each other. It will take time – and that’s ok. But, conscious determination merged with perceptible, noticeable, observable trust will summon more favorable outcomes more often.

Building Trustworthy Partnerships

  • Openness: Be forthcoming, give and take, ask thoughtful questions
  • Competency: Reputation, integrity, skillset, and capabilities matter
  • Respect: Give it to get it back – be generous, considerate, accepting, authentic
  • Values: Uncover commonly shared values – social and professional

We will fully recognize the importance of trust when the stakes are high. For example, buying everyday items from Amazon does not require as much confidence as your ERP purchase, choosing a network security vendor, or acquiring a company. However, when the vendor-partner stakes are high, trust guides our actions. The more detectible the trust, the more likely we are to advance toward each other.

“Trust is built with consistency.”

– Lincoln Chafee

Vendors and partners always prefer to deal with people and organizations they trust. With varying degrees of trust, it is the hopeful outset of any relationship. Focus on trust reinforcement, bolster credibility, and build your integrity. With conscious attention to building trust, you can break away from the competition and cultivate a longer and healthier vendor-partner relationship.