Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Do You Have a Partner?

For a long time this industry has preached that it is not like other industries.  It is built on relationships.  You cannot be successful without face to face interactions.  For the most part, that is very true.  However, most of the time you focus your efforts on building those relationships with your customer.  The relationship/partnership with your vendors is just as important as the relationship with your customers.  Here are three questions for you to think about.

  • Have you built any strong partnerships?
  • Are you leveraging the strong partnerships you have?
  • Are you fostering stronger partnerships?
So, have you built any strong partnerships?  You know, more than just calling to check on an order or what the current stock is on an item.  Your vendors and suppliers want a strong relationship/partnership with you (their customer!) but often feel their efforts to build it are a one way street (sound familiar?).  Dale Carnegie said it best in his book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" - "You can make more friends in two weeks by becoming interested in others than you can in two months by trying to get others interested in you."  It might be hard to make the small talk or find time to ask how their family is doing (they are people) but building that relationship is key to your success.

Are you leveraging your strong partnerships?  Having a strong partnership is something that can help you grow your business.  While your rep might not be able to cut extra deals, they can help you find those extra breaks when they are available.  They will also fight for your best interest in situations that are behind the scenes.  How else can you leverage a strong partnership?  Your rep will find ways to make extra things happen.  They will find clinicians or events or other ways to build business.  They will provide extra inventory or manpower at times when things are tight.  They will lend themselves for situations that need an extra hand. They will sacrifice their own time for you.

So, do you have a rep or two like that?  How can you foster that partnership or build it with other reps?

  • Don't take advantage/abuse it!  They will do those extra things for you because of the relationship.  If there is a feeling of being taken advantage of, those things will end quickly.
  • Express gratitude!  You don't need to give gifts or take them out to dinner.  Most often a genuine Thank You will make them feel amazing.  You can take that a step further by expressing your gratitude to their boss.  Every rep likes a pat on their back by their boss!
  • Return the favor!  Your reps are involved in many different events and extending your help with go a long way in showing a mutual partnership.
  • Ask them to be part of your business!  Introducing them to your key customers and accounts will give you more credibility with those customers.  It will also show your willingness to ask for help and that you have someone you can turn to.
Your reps want your business.  If they are doing their job, they should also be building those relationships with you.  You can help them build that relationship by being an active participant.  A partner you can turn to when you need more than a widget will help you grow your business.

When was the last time one of your vendors went above and beyond the call of duty?  What is your relationship with them?  Do you have that type of partner?

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