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5 tips for effectively managing vendor relationships

The success of any business that uses vendors is dependent on the relationship running smoothly. Without effectively managing your vendor relationships, you could find yourself in a situation where your customers can’t get what they need. This affects your bottom line and you may be left wondering why.

In general, working with vendors is a way to pass on savings to your customers. For example, many vendors offer discounts, resources, promotions, rewards, and other incentives that can then be used to keep your customers buying from you.

However, the latest trends in vendor relationships are for you to have more control, or at least balance, in this relationship. This is often referred to as “Vendor Relationship Management”.

The question then becomes how to effectively manage vendor relationships so that you and your customers get the most out of this partnership. Read on to learn a few practical steps you can start taking today.

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1. Assign a vendor manager position or positions

The relationship you have with your vendors is so important that you should have a full-time position in your company dedicated just to this. If you have a larger company, then you may want to consider assigning one vendor relationship to one individual. This will give you maximum coverage across the board.

The job of this person in this position is to remain active in competing for vendors as well as monitoring, managing, and measuring the outcome of each vendor you work with. In other words, these managers are responsible for “business planning around marketing development funds”, according to Tech Target. Their ultimate goal is to receive every incentive available from one or more vendors.

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2. Develop many contacts

Within the vendor community, it is important to create and maintain contacts throughout the different vendor departments. In fact, you should be talking to as many people as possible within the vendor system you work with. This means having contacts in the sales department, channel manager department, program director department and all the way up to the executives.

By doing this, not only will you have several points of contact to get you those incentives you want, the people you’re in contact with will get to know you and your business very well. This is an easy way to develop and maintain relationships with your vendors, even if you turn to IT support to help you do this.

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3. Stay connected

Having multiple contacts within a vendor agency is not enough. You also need to engage these contacts as frequently as possible. This needs to go beyond transaction deals and into genuine interaction. This can be done through social engagements, review meetings, or other creative ways you can think of that will get your vendor contacts excited.

Staying connected will keep you front and center on the minds of your vendors while the competition fades away.

“Instead of saying, ‘I only know my channel manager or my sales rep from the vendor and that’s the only person that I ever talk to,” solution providers need to know the vendor’s channel chief, vice president of regional sales, program director and other key figures. Additionally, these people need to know who you are.”

— Tech Target
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4. Know your vendor

Do you know how your vendor does business? Do you know the ins and the outs of this type of company? If not, it’s time to start learning. For example, what is their market strategy? How do they structure their channel program? How do they make money? And how do you fit into all this?

The way you look at your business (i.e. revenue, structure, marketing, leads, etc…) is probably the same way a vendor looks at their business. You’re both in it to make money.

But how does a vendor make money? This is an excellent question that you need to keep in the back of your mind when considering an effective relationship with a vendor. This should be a win-win situation for all involved, including any Managed IT services you work with.

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5. Work with an IT support service for your vendor needs

If the idea of effectively managing vendor relationships sounds like too much work for you and your team, consider outsourcing this important part of your business.

Using a managed service provider (MSP) for your third-party vendor contacts offers a wide range of benefits. For starters, many MSPs come with vendor contacts already in place that you can easily take advantage of.

MSP services are also there to answer both yours and vendor questions and supply professional, knowledgeable answers to these questions, something that may not come easily to some business owners who are too busy running other aspects of their company.

Managed IT services have dedicated vendor managers in-house who can take on effectively creating great relationships with the vendors you choose to use, freeing up your time for other important tasks.

Working as a liaison between you and the vendor, and MSP can resolve any issues that may arise, such as faulty products, late deliveries, and other troubleshooting situations. Furthermore, they can educate you on the current technology used to work with vendors and let you know when your system needs to be updated.

Overall, seeking out and obtaining vendor relationships can be time-consuming, but when you use a dedicated MSP to do this for you, they will use their experience and insight to make sure both sides of the relationship achieve their goals.


Related: Managed IT Services Video


The bottom line

If you’re looking for a point of contact for your vendor relationships to keep them running smoothly, contact a managed IT services provider. This will bring you effective vendor relationships, keep your operations running smoothly, and keep the money coming in.