Secrets for working with vendors

Working with vendors to accomplish your objectives is, very often, critical to success. Sanger & Eby has been on both sides of the client-vendor relationship and we’re sharing our 6 secrets for success.

Icons representing our tips - communicate early, work together, start with a creative brief, share the details, communicate openly and regularly, and shift your mindset to one of being trusting.

1. Stop waiting to start communicating.

There is no such thing as an overnight success. And the longer you wait to communicate, the less likely it is that your efforts will be successful. Involve a vendor as early in your process as possible. Give them a heads up so they can get it on their radar. Even if you don’t have a budget established and even if a project isn’t definitely “a go.” The best ideas always come from collaboration. 

Don't have a regular vendor? Start by asking your network for recommendations. 

Try to look for vendors when you don’t need them. You’ll have time to meet with them, to get a feel for their style so you can select ones you are comfortable with and will get your job done right and on time. And we know you’re busy, but try not to turn away a sales call. You may not think you'll ever need them, but they may have an idea of how they can help you and you never know when their skillset may come in handy. 

2. Stop trying to solve things yourself – work together.

Two heads are better than one. Combine your expertise with your vendor’s because, again, the best ideas always come from collaboration! Having a conversation can lead to thought provoking questions that can get you thinking more strategically. Vendors can strategize with you on how to get the most bang for your buck. 

Come to the table with your problem and rely on your vendor for their expertise. You can save time and let them help you strategize to come up with the best solution. And if you do come to the table with a solution, be open-minded. Your vendor may come up with a better solution.

3. Get organized – write it all out in a creative brief.

You’ll save yourself countless hours by providing an organized project blueprint with all the details at the beginning. It helps you shape the overall strategy and goals for your project while getting your vendor on the same page. It may take time, but it will set your project up for success by ensuring everyone involved is aligned at the beginning. 

4. No detail is too small – share it all.

The devil is in the details. Details, as insignificant as they seem, may create a problem that can threaten the feasibility of your entire project. What are your other constraints? Do you have other partners or processes, like budget approvals and review processes they should be aware of? Share it all, and let your vendor decide if it will help them or not.

5. Communicate openly and regularly. 

Set up regular check-ins. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to let things slip when we’re all busy. Scheduled touch bases force you and your vendor to remain cognizant of deadlines, stay on track, and talk about statuses. Regular check-ins also help build the relationship and create a structure to support information flow. Open communication lines facilitate honest conversations and allow you to manage any issues as soon as they happen. 

Don’t be afraid of the “hard conversations.” We’ve all been there before. Things don’t go as planned. Something is out of scope and budget. Something is putting your timeline at risk. The deliverables don't hit the mark. Speak up.  

6. Trust each other – shift your mindset. 

Look for vendors you can create partnerships with. When you a find a partner, you’ll create a relationship. This doesn’t mean you have to become friends. It does mean you’ll get to know one another’s personalities and working styles, allowing you to find a collaborative style that works for you both. And this begins to build trust.

Finding a partner and creating a relationship also allows your vendor to know and become an expert on your brand, style, audience, and subject matter. The deeper their understanding becomes, the more efficient they’ll become which speeds up timelines and lowers costs.

In the end, when you communicate, collaborate, get organized, and share details, you’ll build trust. And then, you'll create excellence. Together.