Vendor versus Partner… What’s in a Name? Quite a Bit, Actually

Building relationships with your clients
As I was reading Isabelle Albanese’s recent and well-reasoned op-ed piece in Quirk’s about the evolving relationship between market research suppliers and their clients, I was reminded about our own post discussing the Dialsmith Code (Behind the Dialsmith Code). In her piece, Albanese, who founded and heads up her own communications consultancy, argues that suppliers should not only change how they refer to themselves (replacing the label “vendors” with “partners”) but should also change how they approach their client engagements, focusing less on making a sale and more on building stronger relationships. Here’s Albanese describing her approach:

I don’t supply – I contribute. And my contributions are considered to be a valuable part of the relationship, unique and constructive. Not only because they like me or connect with me but also because I have contributed to furthering their professional goals, objectives and strategic vision. I have presented a unique solution or angle that provides a different viewpoint on a problem and a solution.

Albanese concludes that there’s much more long-term value in partnership relationships with clients (from both sides of the relationship) than there ever could be in a vendor-client relationship.

Here at Dialsmith, we’ve reached a similar conclusion. Our Dialsmith Code—our guide to how we want to interact with clients—hits on many of the same relationship-building elements that Albanese references in her piece. Concepts such as, “Serve people; don’t sell products…” and “Solve problems; don’t cause them…” may sound a bit corny but when applied day-in and day-out to our client interactions, there’s real value there. We’ve even gone the step of making a poster of the Dialsmith Code and hanging it around the office to keep it top of mind. You can check it out below. Where do you stand on the vendor vs partner discussion and what’s in your code? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Dialsmith Code