It seems like when the economy gets tough, all the “how to sell” talk turns to relationship building. But hasn’t that always been one of, if not the most important part of any business…that link between the client and the vendor. I guess to start with, if you’re going to be in customer service or dealing with vendors on an everyday basis, it really helps to like people. Even after that, it takes a lot of work to develop strong relationships, and these days, everybody has a stake in it. I guess we are lucky, because all of us here generally like dealing with people and trying to please them.
I’m pretty tickled when I see a relationship reach the point of collaboration, where both of you are working as a team to accomplish the task at hand , and you forget who each other works for because you both are after the same goal. When you get to that point, I believe you have reached a new level of Client-vendor relationship. That does not just happen right away, there has to be a lot of trust and respect. The Client has to trust that the vendor won’t overcharge them when they let their guard down. And the vendor has to trust that the client won’t take advantage of his resources when his guard is down. So once you get past that, and you both understand where you need to be in the end, you can make a lot of great things happen.
Well, that still sounds easier than it is a lot of times (but if you practice, it gets easier). I’ve found that prior to starting a project, its good to have some open, honest conversation and lay down some expectations on both of your behaves. What happens if the job does not get done by a certain date, or if approval is late and throws off the schedule. I’ve also found that if there is part of a project that I found a little scary, its better to voice those concerns up front than dig your self a hole and start thinking about the issues when you are past the point of no return.
There’s a lot of responsibility involved with the client-vendor relationship, but it can also be very rewarding. I love what I do and believe it or not look forward to tough projects in part because of the collaboration. In a lot of cases it has led to great friendships and it’s always fun to look back and say “What was I thinking when I thought that was going to be easy”