In the world of business and sales, the importance of building strong vendor/client relationships is often emphasized. Numerous resources exist, offering strategies, tips, and the latest sales techniques. However, amid all the noise, we sometimes overlook the fundamental aspects of these relationships – the human element, the pressures, and the expectations that exist on both sides of the table.

The Foundation of a Relationship

While many sales relationships revolve around transactional details and financial agreements, these should be the result of a strong relationship rather than its foundation. What often goes unrecognized is the fact that, on the other side of that contract or screen, there are people with their own set of pressures, expectations, and responsibilities. As a vendor or service provider, it’s crucial to keep this in mind as part of our operational approach.

Understanding Your Client’s Perspective

When offering a solution or service to clients, it’s not just about delivering a product or service; it’s about helping them succeed within their own organizations. This understanding is essential because:

Internal Expectations:

Our clients are evaluated within their organization based on the success of the solution or service we provide. Meeting or exceeding their internal expectations is crucial for their own career growth, and the achievement of their business goals.

Involvement in the Decision-Making Process:

More often than not, the team we work with on the client’s side played a significant role in the decision to collaborate with our company. We understand their professional reputation is also on the line.

Reflection on Their Organization

The success or failure of a project reflects directly on their organization and their position within it.

Daily Interactions:

Our client partners deal with multiple vendors and service providers daily. Building a meaningful and supportive relationship can set one vendor or partner apart from the rest.

Why Acknowledging These Precepts Matter

Acknowledging these fundamental aspects of vendor/client relationships is crucial because, too often, they are forgotten once the project begins. In the midst of processes, transactions, and deadlines, it’s easy to lose sight of the people on the other side of the table. However, neglecting these aspects can lead to a healthy vendor/client relationship devolving into a purely transactional one. Issues such as delays, undefined expectations, and lack of communication can become barriers to a productive partnership.

The Hidden Value

Now, let’s delve into the hidden value that lies within this understanding. By recognizing that our clients have their own pressures and expectations, we can provide support and value that may not be immediately linked to a transaction.

Be a Problem Solver, Not Just a Service Provider:

By approaching our client as a partner who understands their challenges, we reduce resistance to asking for help or asking questions that they may not be able to address internally.

Empower Your Clients:

Make your clients shine within their own organizations. Help them become the go-to experts in your field, even beyond the scope of the current project.

Expertise Transfer:

Your knowledge and expertise can become theirs by proxy. As you assist them in achieving their goals, they’ll see you as a trusted source for future needs.

Future Transactions:

While your immediate goal might not be to secure new transactions, most times, providing value will naturally lead to future opportunities. By helping your client succeed, you build trust and a strong foundation for long-term partnerships.


In the realm of vendor/client relationships, the hidden value is not found in complex sales strategies or the latest buzzwords, but in recognizing the human element, the pressures, and the expectations that exist on both sides of the partnership.

By embracing these fundamental aspects and operating with empathy and understanding, you can build enduring relationships that go beyond transactions and provide long-term value to both parties. Remember, the real value in a vendor/client relationship is downstream, a resultant of a foundation built on trust, collaboration, and genuine support.

Whether you are a member of our firm, one of our clients, considering doing business with us, or thinking about your own customers as you read this, we hope you’ll find something small to take away and put into action.

Contributed by Kevin Reilly, Senior Account Executive


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