Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Double Standards, Vendors, Commodities, and Partnerships
If we require courtesy and promptness from our vendors as conditions for doing business with us, what are the implications when we give less than what we expect to receive?
When I don't treat my vendors as I'd have them treat me, I'm following a double standard. I'm telling them they're less important than me. I'm treating them like impersonal commodities.
Those vendors whose products or services tend to be considered commodities — and others who need or want my business so badly that they'll pretend they are — will probably do business with me. Others might decide not to.
The double standard becomes a problem when I need my vendors to perform as partners.
But this begs some questions: What's a commodity? And when would I not want a vendor to perform as a partner?
Nuts and bolts and telephone service and paper clips and domain name registrations might be considered commodities. But their prompt and accurate delivery, and solving problems associated with their delivery and usage, are not.
When I have to call Go Daddy to resolve a client's domain name problem, should I treat the customer service rep on the other end of the phone like a partner? You bet, because that's what she is.
Partners are nothing more or less than people or groups who collaborate toward the achievement of a common goal and who agree to share the responsibility for its achievement. They have stakes in their common success.
The salesman whose cold call interrupts my work or chain of thought isn't an adversary unless and until he disregards my clear and unambiguous expression of disinterest in what he's selling. Up until that point, he's a potential partner.
I've been around long enough to know the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy. If I treat vendors like anything less than partners, they probably won't perform like partners.
I share these principles not because I'm good at following them but because I'm not. Maybe writing it down will help.
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