One BIG disclaimer I have to point out before this article begins is that it might be, well, slightly biased. As an Account Manager myself, I can obviously attest to the importance of maintaining quality relationships with my clients, but what about the other way around?
For any business, cultivating partnerships with vendors is essential. An engaged client will not only realize the most value from their direct solution, but can benefit indirectly as well. Simply put, treating your vendors like partners is good for business. Here’s why.
They’re the Experts
Companies hire vendors because they lack at least one of three things: resources, time, and expertise. Although it is obviously necessary to first identify which of these three is the impetus for using a third party vendor, it is equally important to not forget this original reason throughout the context of the engagement. Good vendors are always educating because transparency inspires trust, but trust is a two way street.
What’s in it for me?
As an Account Manager, I am fortunate in that I operate in a unique vantage point that allows me to oversee a broad spectrum of verticals from an off-page SEO standpoint. When there are updates in the industry, I see the impact not only on one domain in one industry, but for multiple companies around the world. Ever wonder if what is happening to your site is happening to someone else’s? I’d be happy to let you know. I can also tap into and collaborate with teams of experts internally that have the same insight and expertise. This is a value add for you and your organization – take advantage of it.
It’s a Small World After All
As SEO’s and Online Marketers, one thing that’s obvious (or should be) is that we operate in a continually evolving and small community.
We read the same blogs, we pay attention to the same thought leaders, we follow the same best practices, and (finally) we oftentimes work with the same people. A niche industry that is characterized by people who change companies regularly means that building quality relationships is essential for all parties involved. Partnerships may end, but people do business with people. A point of contact today could be a client or competitor tomorrow.
In my short time in this industry, I have already seen examples of this occurring. In one instance, a point of contact left a role at an agency and began working in-house for a separate company that became a client because of their good experience with us. In another, we referred one client (a major clothing retailer) to another (a consultant) because they were looking to hire someone new. Networking is essential for any industry, but even more so for one that is so closely knit. Don’t burn bridges.
“We want to make sure that we are equally as good a fit for you as you are for us”. It’s not just rhetoric or a takeaway sales tactic. Vendors are equally (if not more so) invested into the solution as the client. In fact, the word “vendor” itself is cringe worthy for any serious partner (I have used it seven times already in this post, believe me). It is for this reason why the vendor (8th time) selection process is of paramount importance for any company. Once that vendor is selected, however, it is important not to forget that partnerships need to continue to be forged.
What’s in it for me?
Ask yourself this question: “Am I seeing the most value out of my strategic partnership with my vendor?” If the answer is no, you are doing something wrong. In an industry that experiences major changes on a seemingly weekly basis, over communication is essential. Vendors make money when their client makes money – if this equilibrium is not being realized, a good strategic partner will work to make things work.
The Real Swag
SWAG, for anyone who has attended a convention, refers to Stuff We All Get. In the context of this blog post, I am using the term real swag not because iAcquire has the coolest t-shirts (which we do), but because real swag is something that we don’t all get. What I am referring to can vary and range from product discounting to free keyword research to senior level attention on issues outside the scope of work.
Just last week, for instance, a client came to me with a serious concern regarding SEO outside of the context of our solution. I was able to loop in my General Manager, our Director of SEO Strategy, one of iAcquire’s co-founders and a guy named Mike King in less than thirty minutes for a phone call (Avengers Assemble!). It was 25 years of combined SEO experience in one room. 27 if you counted me, but I know when to keep my mouth shut…
Regardless of what the value-add is, the important thing is to understand why it occurred in the first place – a strong partnership. It occurs because the vendor has skin in the game to see the client be successful and is willing to cut back on margins to realize that success. Real swag, although rare, only can be gained once the vendor becomes the partner.