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Vendor partnerships

3 Top Vendor Partnership Killers to Avoid

Lori Stafford Thomas

As a small-business owner, vendor partners are critical to your success. Depending on the industry and size of your merchant operation, your vendor partners will likely vary. However, neither the former nor the latter relinquish the importance that these partners provide, not to mention the added value to your bottom line.

Working with others in today's business ecosystem requires constant communication and collaboration. Without these attributes, a relationship is likely to struggle. Keeping that in mind, here are three characteristics of a vendor partnership to make sure you avoid:

  1. Lack of responsiveness: A lack of communication in the small-business partnership realm is a hurdle to avoid in order to keep your business running smoothly and reach your goals. It's imperative that you're always on the same page with your vendor partners, or mistakes are more likely to occur, costing both parties time and money. Growth in any business relationship requires constant and efficient interaction from both parties. While a lack of communication hinders growth, too many ineffective engagements are equally as counterproductive. If both sides are responsive, open-minded to suggestions or change, and are honest with one another about their business goals, a partnership should flourish.
     
  2. Doesn't scale with your business: One of the many reasons an entrepreneur starts their own business is a passion for providing a product or service to the marketplace. If you're partnering with an outside organization to help fulfill that goal, you need to ensure that its product or service helps you scale as you take on more business. In today's agile and fast-paced small-business ecosystem, you'll need a proprietary system that matures at a pace that's comfortable for your business. It's important to scale at an appropriate rate that matches your capability to meet customer demand. Proper communication between your company and its partners will help ensure that you scale properly and effectively.
     
  3. Lack of customization: Business partners should be working with your business to meet its individual needs. A vendor partner that takes a cookie-cutter approach with its clients isn't ideal in today’s world. To yield the most successful results, a vendor must first identify what its customers' needs are and then mold its products and services together to best fit those needs. If a vendor partner prioritizes its own needs, there's a likelihood that the relationship could suffer. According to business-to-business sales and performance improvement firm Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, one of the top reasons a B2B partnership fails is because partners had conflicting sales incentives and behavior. Incentives need to align with a clients' needs, otherwise one party's idea of success will diverge from the other's, creating tension and an unsuccessful relationship. Through communication and customization, growing a business can be profitable and fulfilling for both parties (1).

1. Inflexion-Point Strategy, http://www.inflexion-point.com/Blog/bid/63137/The-5-Top-Reasons-Why-B2B-Partnerships-Fail (Jun. 3, 2011)

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