Real Value through Partners
Managing Partner Agentur eder
“Real value doesn’t come from a supplier. It comes from a partner!”
Robert Laub, Managing Partner Agentur eder
Not long ago, I read the above statement on the website of a manufacturing conglomerate. On the face of it, their industry would seem to have little in common with our service-focused agency world.
But for weeks afterwards, those words kept coming to mind, urging me to reflect on what “supplier” or “partner” really means, particularly in the context of a business year dominated by coronavirus.
“Is a business relationship purely that of customer-supplier or more of a collaboration between partners?”
This stretches from our private lives, in which reduced contact with other people is leading us to re-evaluate friendships (or realise they were overvalued), right through to everyday business life and the question of whether a business relationship is purely that of customer-supplier or more of a collaboration between partners.
“No one wants to be just a supplier and, if asked, every customer will claim the collaboration is a partnership, as if it were almost self-evident.”
We are not talking here about that age-old complaint – the price is so low that any additional soft skills requested cannot be provided, simply on grounds of cost. Rather, customers must ask themselves whether the collaboration is really based on price alone, meaning they are ultimately just seeking a “supplier”. Or, looking beyond the cost aspects, do they actually require other skills that cannot necessarily be set out in black and white when drawing up the job specification? This should be the point where the customer decides to find a “partner” for a collaboration shaped by open communication, idea-sharing, boldness, trust and mutual respect.
“This should be the point where the customer decides to find a “partner” for a collaboration shaped by open communication, idea-sharing, boldness, trust and mutual respect.”
Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with using a supplier in the purest sense if the role is limited to exactly that (the supply of goods and services) and is also clearly communicated as such.
If, however, your sights are set on technically innovative solutions, support with complex problems and optimisation of quality, processes and costs – which together add real “value” – then suppliers should be treated as vital “partners”.