You might know what it takes to be a good vendor: knowledge of your product, prompt delivery, yada yada yada. But do you know what it takes to be a great vendor? Well we asked ourselves the same question! So to find out, we took to the streets…
Well, the figurative, virtual, Internet street of course….it is 2018! We asked our clients what they appreciated about us as a vendor, but more importantly, we asked them what made their companies’ good vendors in their respective fields. The results of this informal query were awesome. No matter what field you’re in there’s a thing or two you can learn from these amazing professionals.
Although connection to your clients is important, you often bring a unique perspective to the situation that your client needs to hear. They might be so focused into their unique niche and situation that they may be blind to a very serious issue (or beneficial alternative), and that’s where you come in!
“I work in an industry with primarily engineering-minded people. I can help take what’s inside their heads—which may be too technically complex for the average person to understand—and translate it into a message that is easily understandable and digestible for our audience.”
-Katie Wilkins, Pepper Construction
Ultimately, your interaction with your clients cannot be limited by when the project is complete and the bill is paid; as a reputable vendor, you are a valuable resource for your clients when you are knowledgeable in many aspects of your industry. Studio13’s Owner Lesle Lane says about her business:
“I love the fact that I have become a resource for my clients. They see me as someone who is very active in the community and knows a lot of people in different industries. Recently I had a client ask me for help in looking for a new job. She said, ‘You know everyone.’ It made me feel valuable to know she saw me as more than just a photographer she saw me an ally and a resource.”
For a client to be confident in your product or service, they want to know that you provide strategy for each project you work on. If you can’t show them that you strategically plan for their businesses needs, your credibility plummets. Consider what this marketing firm says:
“We start with strategy. Our corporate clients who engage us for strategic marketing programs walk away with a 12 month strategic marketing plan that helps them identify the most ideal targets…We work with our clients as the marketing arm of their company and provide additional services to help their overall businesses be successful.”
-Julie Pitts, MEMO Marketing Group
In today’s business world, it’s not what you know, or even who you know, but the cold cut value of the product you provide. Gone are the days when everybody picked the same vendor because there was only one around. Competition in the marketplace means that value is of top priority to those choosing your vendor. Consider the words of this client:
“I’ve found that when a client recognizes what we bring to the table and to their reputation, they will often stop ‘bidding’ us against our competition…It reminds me of Ben Franklin’s adage: ‘The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.’”
–Michael Roach, Complete Structural Consulting
If you want to do business with people, forming personal relationships with these people is foundational (I’d say near inevitable). Business is not just a transaction; it means being a human in front of other humans (yes, even for introverts) and making your case not just for your company, but for you as a partner.
“I always stress the relationship aspect of being a vendor. At the end of the day, people do business with people that they trust and connect with when forming a business partnership.”
–Brad Willy, Commercial Works
Once a personal relationship is formed, the next step is to find common ground with your client. You should feel like you have a personal investment in their company and they should feel the same about you! Some fields require clients to reveal very personal thoughts to their vendors, like with this client:
“I try to relate—picture how they are probably feeling, what they are scared of, what they don’t know, how this may be affecting family and personal life, and so on…I do what I can to make their experience with a lawyer a positive [one].”
–Anonymous Indianapolis Lawyer
We’re sure that there are many more things that make each company special and unique to their customers but we appreciate so much our clients helping us out and reminding us how to stay great in their eyes!