Do you ever look for the Win-Win scenario?
You win, the customer wins?
They got their problems solved and the product they needed at a fair price, you got the sale and the smile and the long-term relationship.
You win, the vendor wins?
You got the product you needed at a margin you can afford, they got the sale, the smile and the long-term relationship.
Wait? You didn’t promise your vendor anything other than this order. If it doesn’t sell or someone else comes at you with a better offer, you’re moving on. Right? And they better give you a decent show special, and good terms, and an extra discount, and channel protection, and exclusivity, and price protection, and free training, and a free display, and samples, and literature, and point-of-purchase signs, and seasonal promotions, and guaranteed sales, and immediate shipping, and drop-shipping, and touch-up paint, and brochures, and advertising co-op, and markdown money, and web support, and…
I admit. I am guilty of it. I want all of that from my vendors. I want the whole nine yards, the whole kit and kaboodle, the whole enchilada. Yet when my own customers come at me with those kinds of demands, I never feel like the winner. Yeah, I got the sale, but I sold my soul to get it.
Don’t put your vendors into that same position. Treat them like partners. Find the win-win for you and your vendor. Understand that they have expenses, too. Amazingly high expenses. They have to invest a lot of money into research and develop of new products before they know if the product has a chance at selling. They have to buy up front without terms.
The smart vendors often have built all those goodies you demand into their profit margins, just like the smart retailers have done with their extras. But if it is going to be a good long-term relationship, the vendors need you to give a little, too. Go back to the list of demands. Which do you need? Which can you live without? Which are deal killers? Which are merely nuisances? Which ones move the needle?
When you enter a relationship with a vendor (and all purchases should be looked at as relationship-building), make sure you are clear up front of what you want and what you can live without. Make as many concessions as you make demands. Make sure you and the vendor are on the same page. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Make it about the long-term relationship.
There is always a win-win scenario. That’s where you’ll find the profit.
PS Sure, when you’re small and just starting out there will be vendors who don’t care enough about you to look at it that way. Some of that is because they have been burnt by too many retailers who don’t look for the win-win. That’s okay. You’re not them. Do it the right way and if nothing else, you’ll sleep better at night. More likely, however, is that when you treat your vendor – no matter how big or small – as a partner, they will often come through for you when you need them most.