Do You Have Vendors or Partners?

If you have a channel partnership program, you may say that you have lots of partners.  When you’re referring to them in conversation or meetings, do you call them partners or vendors?  It’s seems like a little thing, but words are powerful.

A partner is someone you work with, cooperating with each other to making sure that both of you reach your goals.  It involves mutual give and take and a lot of trust.  A vendor is someone that sells your product.  There’s no mutual goal setting, and no trust needs to be established.  A vendor is looking out for his own best interests, since no one else is.

When you’re working with a vendor, you’re automatically in an adversarial relationship.  Each of you is trying to get the best deal and terms for your own company, even if that means the other guy loses.  An excellent example of this to me is what’s happening in the automotive field right now.  Car companies stopped partnering with their suppliers and started treating them as vendors.  The car companies wanted lower prices and more services, and threatened to go elsewhere if their demands weren’t met.  The suppliers had no choice but to figure out how to make auto parts more cheaply and still make a profit.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not comforted by the fact that brakes are made by the lowest bidder!

When you work with partners, you’re both trying to make the relationship work for both of you.  Providing marketing, sales, and technical support increases the likelihood that your partners will sell your product and succeed.  You have a vested interest in your partner’s success, because that means you’re succeeding, as well.  In fact, providing your partners with every means of succeeding increases your own success exponentially. 

So take a look at your partner program.  Is it providing a win to everyone involved?  If not, that may be holding back your own success.

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