Today, we’re going to talk about maintaining healthy and long lasting relationships with your partners and vendors.
Starting off in the credit card processing industry, I’ve had to work with hundreds of businesses as affiliates, vendors, and other business owners in partnerships.
Over the past ten years, I’ve had countless learning opportunities on what makes a successful partnership.
Business isn’t always just business.
I genuinely don’t believe that business affiliations are purely “just business”.
At the end of the day, you’re working with another person, who has their own goals, hopes, and struggles that their company is facing. Being aware of the humanity involved in every business interaction is the first step toward building a successful relationship with your affiliates.
The same can also be applied internally to your own team. Each of your business partners, your President, CEO, and managers all have feelings and goals of their own.
Why humanity is key to remember.
When you work with people, you want it to be a good relationship. For that to happen, the relationship has to be mutually beneficial.
Think of it this way, there’s a healthy version of a married couple where both parties are participating and giving. That marriage is beneficial for both people.
On the opposite end, there’s a couple where one individual is giving everything, and receiving nothing in return. This is a toxic, dysfunctional arrangement, and it typically doesn’t last.
It’s baffling to me when it comes to business partnerships we tend to view the model of a receiving everything and giving nothing in return as a badge of honor.
What do I mean by this? For example, it’s pretty common for people in business to beat on the other party to have them come down on a price. The tough negotiator, the one who will come out “on top.”
It’s important to not remove the human aspect when you’re dealing with a business relationship, like this. If you continually ignore them and choose to not affirm them, they are not going to feel as if they are gaining anything out of the relationship with your business.
Your business partnership model should aspire to create relationships that are mutually beneficial.
There’s a fine line between getting a good deal and being a parasite.
There’s a line between negotiating and a good deal, but there comes a time where getting a good deal becomes counterproductive, hurting the relationship and ruining it for both business parties.
There’s a fundamental difference between selling encyclopedias, paintings, or door to door sales, versus a partnership with another business. It’s not a one-time sale.
Vendors and partner relationships are not a one-time buying pitch. The service or product you’re offering needs to be continually amazing, otherwise the relationship will fall apart.
You want your vendors and partners to make money, and not be the only person receiving money from the the deal. Don’t just take pride in beating up people for lower pricing. There is a time and place for that.
The deal you make with your affiliates or vendors needs to be as great of a deal tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that.
When you sell someone on an emotion or impulse, the relationship will not last. So, walk that line carefully.
Not caring for your partner’s costs you in the long run.
You have to care about others well being, or it will hurt you.
Not having empathy and understanding for others, specifically your partners, could cause you to lose them and tarnish your reputation. Bad news, and a bad reputations are hard to get rid of. Like the saying goes, ‘good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster.’
In the ten years I’ve been in business, I’ve found that there are only been a handful of people/companies that I refuse to work with. Typically these businesses are people/companies you can’t trust. They’ve either mistreated me, a friend, or employee badly. I don’t have any time for someone that mistreats people.
It might be why we have Happy & Grateful in our core values.
I feel so strongly about not working with a vendor that’s abused a relationship, I’d find a competitor and pay more for the same service, or choose to lose money, before I’d work with them.
When working with partners, you need to show that you care by aligning your interests. You need to prove that you share their similar concerns about things likes their profit margins and struggles. When you’re both equally invested in each other’s company, you’re in a balanced relationship.
You want to avoid relationships with other companies where you’re beating them down on their prices so much that you’re sucking the life out of their business, forcing them to create revenue streams elsewhere inside your relationship. These types of unfortunate scenarios mean your vendors will find ways to get their profit margins back. They do this by hiding fees, lying, adding extra charges, removing the valuable support and value of the service, or even terminating your relationship.
Care about others and their business. You’ll be happier in the long run. I guarantee it.
Be willing to set expectations.
If you want a lasting company relationship, you need to be transparent and honest.
When starting a relationship that’s based on recurring revenue, you do not want to start off with the other party having unrealistic expectations. It’s a horrible idea to oversell and exaggerate. This is a bad habit that goes along with making a sales pitch, and people will oversell and over promise on their product and service to get a yes. The problem starts when the numbers the other company was promised does not line up with what you’re delivering.
Intentionally falsifying your value and failing to deliver causes you to lose credibility. You want your company to have a history of doing what you promised you would do. If anything, it’s better to underpromise a bit and then overdeliver.
Being vulnerable in setting proper expectations is key.
Keep communication lines open.
Follow up and communication is critical. I cannot say enough about this.
Responding to people is important to maintaining quality relationships. There’s nothing more frustrating than working with a business partner that does not respond when you email or call them. It ties back into that idea of both parties are mutually beneficial to one another.
You can’t just drop off the face of the earth once you’ve made an agreement with someone. You will need to constantly follow up with them, and be available if they’re having issues with the product or service you’re offering.
Over-communicating with your partners and vendors reveals solid integrity. By not responding, you’re showing others that you don’t care or value them enough to simply answer their question, concern, or feedback.
Understand you’ll have to renegotiate sometimes.
When you’re creating a partnership, it’s always wise to set proper expectations of what you want out of the other company and what you’re offering.
You may also realize that over time the relationship has shifted where one party is no longer receiving a fair deal out of the process.
It’s happened in the past, where the relationship started with great fanfare, however, when we started growing, the other business started losing money providing service to us. This caused a lot of problems.
We ended up going back to the negotiating table and consolidated some other areas so the business could make money from their relationship with us.
Negotiations are always tricky and certainly could have gone a different way. As a business professional, I could have pounded my chest and been stubborn to receive the best “deal.” I could have also brushed it off that our vendor was not making any money doing business with us.
By negotiating, it might cost you a bit more sometimes, but without your trusted partner, where would you be? You’d be out a valuable relationship with a vendor, and end up costing yourself more money in the long run by penny pinching.
Renegotiate and treat people fairly. You’ll be glad you did.
The ultimate way to find success with your partners in business is to embrace the human aspect of your interactions.
To have great partnerships you need to make sure you and the other business are equally invested into your relationship together, and you’re both willing to work to make it succeed. You have to be willing to communicate, have difficult conversations in order to set expectations, and make sure that you’re all benefiting from the relationship.
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