Part One Of a Five-Part Series
2017 marks my twentieth year in the IT field and fifth working in the reseller space. I feel like I’ve seen it all, but one thing that seems constant regardless of the organization is the struggle to reconcile the relationship between vendors and the business. I think I’ve heard every theory and strategy out there. Some want a different vendor for each architecture: the different eggs in different baskets theory. Some take every purchase as a challenge to get an ever-cheaper price: the pit them against each other theory. While others go with my personal favorite, “I like to spread it around:” the I want everyone to like me and get an equal cut of my budget theory.
The problem with each of these is that they’re based on a narrow view of the IT/vendor relationship. Many are born out of fear and an assumption the vendor is going to take advantage of them at every opportunity -- and some do. This creates an us versus them relationship and deprives the business of a great number of benefits offered by the us with them relationship. It’s the difference between being partners in your business’s success, or being perceived as opponents. Let’s take a step back, put down the swords, and consider what advantages a close relationship with a partner can provide your business.
To truly understand the advantages, we need to recognize the difference in working with just another vendor and working with a partner. Identifying a vendor is easy, and everybody knows several. Their primary concern is selling you whatever it is they, or you, think you need at that moment. It’s a point-in-time transaction, and the relationship only exists to ensure the next one. There’s only a cursory concern for the wellbeing of your business, if there is any at all. They’re often nothing more than a low-price leader whose only purpose to you is conveying goods from the manufacturer to your door. Their value is minimal and they are easily replaced.
Partnership, however, means the alignment of the partner’s goals with your business’s goals. A true partner has only one goal: to work with you to increase your profitability and decrease your costs while easing IT’s administrative burdens and helping IT succeed in their mission. It may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t; there are organizations founded on this principle.
Their purchase recommendations only take into consideration the needs of the business. Their engineering and sales teams understand both your business’s purpose and the mission of the IT department. Their focus is the long-term relationship, not the immediate transaction. They don’t sacrifice your welfare for theirs. They understand that when you succeed and thrive, so will they. Most importantly, they become part of your team.
If you haven’t experienced working with a partner before, differentiating between vendor and partner during your introductory meeting can be challenging. Knowing what to expect can make this easier. For more on why working with a partner beats buying from a vendor, continue reading part two of this five-part series, called “Partners Know Your Industry” to understand how you can benefit by working with partners who serve numerous businesses in your industry.
About the Author:
Justin Bera has worked in technology for over 15 years, and has experience working with security, redundancy, disaster recovery and policy compliance. He is currently the Manager of Solution Engineering for IE, spending his days working with IT folks to solve challenges in their environments and design solutions to support the changes in their networks and businesses.