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NEVER A VENDOR BE

PADMA VATSAVAI, FOUNDER AND CEO

Think back to your last business conference (as an attendee, not a vendor) and the mild unease that accompanied your walk from the breakout session to the breakfast table.

The hungry eyes of the vendors are upon you, their widgets and slogans splashed onto gaudy booth art. Their bowls of hard candy and branded gadgets beckon.

Step right up and take a pen! Hear the pitch! Put a one-pager in your conference bag, “for later.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Vinformatix has a vendor booth, too. It’s one of the nice ones that packs up and rolls like a golf caddy. We buy the expensive chocolates.  Our pens actually work.

But Vinformatix is not a “vendor” and never will be. You shouldn’t be either.

I know what you’re thinking: Doesn’t vend simply mean “to sell?” Isn’t sales the very soul of business?

Yes, sales is essential to business. But Vinformatix is not a commodities broker. Our custom software, data analytics and database management services don’t end at the sale: That’s where they begin!

All service businesses know that the dotted line is just the starting line. But I think every business would benefit from getting out of the vendor space and becoming what we aim to be with each client: a partner.

Where sales is largely transactional, partnership is relational. It hinges on shared responsibility and shared success. The responsibility I feel for our clients’ needs extends beyond the products and services we provide and into their business model, their decision-making, their corporate mission and vision.

It has to. Our work is essential to our clients’ success—deeply entwined in their business process—just as their trust is essential to ours.

In my view, no business grows in a vacuum. Rather, it takes place in a web of mutual responsibility (between suppliers, customers, investors, employees and policymakers) that we ignore at our peril. 

Partnership is a guiding principle that provides real strategic advantage. It turns competition into cooperation and makes exponential growth a natural by-product of doing business.

So, the next time you run the gamut of vendor booths at Expo-X, try to imagine the partnership potential of every supplier and service provider you meet. Stop for the chocolates, maybe, but stay for the good stuff. 

RESOURCES FOR FURTHER READING:

  • How To Transform Your Customer Into Your Partner, by Maya Weber
    • “Communication is key. It must be open and on-going if you are going to succeed in building a strong relationship. Regular interaction will not only help to build trust with your customer, but will also help you to keep them satisfied at all times…” [Read More]
  • Partnering with Your Customers, Valarie Griep, Arthur Maxwell
    • “Trust is at the heart of a good partnership and transparency is key to building trust. Provide honest, timely communication whether the news is good or bad. Make sure your metrics are tied to the customer results so that your partners can easily understand and relate to them…” [Read More]
  • Customer Partnership Defined, Vadim Kotelnikov
    • “The term ‘customer partnership’ we take not so much in its legal definition of co-ownership but rather in its sense of sharing in benefits, profits and losses of your company…” [Read More]