We all know that the vetting process for selecting an outsourced vendor for your business can be cumbersome and stressful. The search begins by researching a potential pool of vendors – either by talking to colleagues for referrals or performing a good old fashioned search. Then, you’re tasked with the arduous process of contacting and interacting with the list of potential vendors, providing each of them with detailed information about your business and the project at hand. Of course, the vendors most likely won’t ask the same questions, so you’ll have to field unique questions, taking more of your precious time. And if any of the potential vendors are at all “sales oriented”, they’ll attempt to gain access to even more of your time in order to start building a relationship with you which they hope will lead to a closed deal. It’s enough to drive any reasonable business person past the brink. But before you allow the stress of the process to impact your interactions with these potential partners, spend some time thinking about the “Golden Rule” and how it applies to vendor selection. In doing so, you might just find yourself getting better rates and service from the selected provider.
View Your Vendors as a Partner Instead of a Commodity
The first step in alleviating the pain of the vendor selection process is to change your outlook. Most often, vendor negotiation is viewed as adversarial. And to some extent, this is reasonable and understandable. After all, you’re looking to find the best vendor for your needs at the lowest possible rates. And, on the flip side, they’re trying to win your business at the highest negotiated rates without losing the deal. But focusing purely on the financial impacts of the deal will not only ignore some of the more intangible benefits and needs of the relationship, but it could also put unwanted stress on the negotiation process that only makes a commodity out of the relationship. A vendor can be so much more than a commodity – they can be a valuable partner in your business, helping you innovate, differentiate from your competitors, grow sales, and add value well beyond the contracted services. By viewing the relationship differently, you open the door to unleashing these intangibles, which will only help your business flourish.
Treat Others the Way You Want to be Treated
Does your business sell? If so, then you no doubt have an understanding of how difficult it can be when “the shoe is on the other foot.” You know how difficult it can be to try to obtain all of the desired information from your prospects and most likely wish that they would treat you better. How would it feel if your prospects answered all of your phone calls promptly, or followed up with all of the required information, or told you the truth about their intentions or reservations? Most likely, after you picked your jaw up off of the floor, you would thank them profusely for treating you like a partner and would bend over backwards to help them out. So why would you treat your vendors or potential vendors any differently?
Best Practices for Vendor Relations
So what are the best ways to treat your vendors or potential vendors in order to get a healthy dose of low prices and high quality service in return? Follow these guidelines:
- Be honest in all of your negotiations, even if it’s difficult
- Return correspondence, even if it’s to tell them you’ve decided against them
- Be quick to respond
- Open up with them about your true intentions and what you’re looking for
These may seem like simple tips, but they’re often lost in an attempt to “get the best rates” or save time. But you’ll find that, by treating others fairly, you’ll get far more in return. Vendors are a key part of every business, so don’t make the same mistake most companies do by trivializing the partnership. Treat your vendors they way you want to be treated, and a true partnership can be forged and the results just might pleasantly surprise you.
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