An individual on Twitter recently asked me the following question:
- "What is your problem with vendors? Why don't you like vendors? You've got to admit that clients are dumb, right?"
Ok, that's a bit of a paraphrase of a handful of tweets from one individual, but you get the picture.
Let me make something very clear. There are two types of companies that support my clients.
- There are "partners". Partners deeply care about my clients. They do anything to help my clients. They try hard to act like a client employee, or better.
- There are "vendors".
A vendor (in the catalog world) takes names that you give them for free and sells them to online companies so that the online companies can put you out of business, and then looks you in the face and tells you that this practice is ok, and of course, it is ok ... for the vendor ... because the vendor gets paid twice ... from you ... and from your online competitors ... while you give the vendor your most important asset ... your customer file ... for free.
A vendor lists a price at $100,000 so that stupid clients pay $100,000 ... and then negotiates the price down to $70,000 for average clients and negotiates the price down to $35,000 others and gives the product away for free to clients they wish to publicly attract. The vendor does not tell anybody that any of this is happening.
A vendor tries to bribe somebody like me (one of the co-ops tried this) to tell my clients that they should work with the co-op.
A vendor "bundles" services to make their overall offering look more attractive, when the additional services do not cost money.
A vendor lies to you. Right to your face. Numerous folks on Twitter have told me that their vendors do this, and that they have caught vendors in lies, and the vendors don't care.
A vendor does not publicly state what their prices are, but demands that you offer an omnichannel solution with transparent pricing. Let that one sink in for a moment.
A vendor tries to "lock you in" to a long-term solution that benefits them, not you.
A vendor calls somebody like me and tells me that they will put me out of business, so instead of dealing with something that messy, the vendor asks for full access to my client list so that the vendor can sell into the client list and then that frees me up to work on other projects.
A vendor offers an "advisory board" position, and in exchange, asks for full access to my client list so they can promote products and services to my clients.
A vendor sits in a meeting with me and my client, and tells the client, while I'm sitting there, that they studied the work I did for another client (which was under non-disclosure on both ends) and determined that they can do the work better than I can, so they ask the client to work with the vendor and not me - and yes, I'm sitting right there in the meeting, so imagine what the vendor says when I'm not there?
A client asks me to evaluate a vendor. I tell the client to keep working with the vendor. And then, at NEMOA last year, the vendor publicly berates me in front of the client I just recommended the vendor to.
A partner does none of the above.
Is it clear, now, what the difference is between a "vendor" and a "partner"?
I don't like vendors.
I love honest partners.
Use the comments section to publicly laud honest partners. Please - do it!! Who do you love to work with? Name the vendors ... and name the individuals who provide outstanding service. Let's publicly praise those who work ethically, and do good - those are the folks who deserve our business.