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Chris K Leslie

Chris K Leslie Marketing

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Building Effective Vendor Relationships


There is a tendency for us automotive digital marketers to allow others the ability to dictate and demand our time. I’m not talking so much about our bosses or co-workers. I’m talking about our vendors and potential partners.

The phone rings all day, your inbox looks like a twitter stream. I get it. It sucks.

So, how are you ever going to get anything done if you’re just running to the next meeting our joining the next webex?

Well, its simple really. You need to create some breathing room.

It isn’t hard and not only are you going to feel more liberated. I’ve found that our current partners appreciate the productive meetings we have as well as the potential partners get a chance to have their voice heard.

I know many folks who just brush off these potential partners. But I would argue there is a lot we can learn from the people we haven’t talked to yet.

So what I do is this.

For our current partners and vendors I keep a standing monthly meeting. Typically the 2nd or 3rd friday of the month. I like Friday’s because it allows me time over the weekend to think about the things we’ve discussed and if it’s something I want to do I can start on it when I am back Monday.

I always ask our vendors the same 3 questions and ask them to have this prepared before arriving for our meeting.



Question 1 — What’s Working?

Ive noticed that a lot of times the things that are working get discussed way less than the things that are working. Not only is it a downer to only talk about the things that suck. It also sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. So if you start of by talking about the positives then the rest of your meeting can keep that up beat tone.



Question 2 — What’s Not Working?

I set the expectation clearly up front that if something isn’t working. Lets either decide that it just isn’t a good fit for our business or it needs some adjusting to get it back working to where we think it should be. Not all products are for everyone. I know many vendors hate talking about this but they know I do this our of respect for them and their product. Both I and they would rather drop a feature or something added vs. dropping the vendor all together.



Question 3 — What small thing can we tweak that will have a measurable impact?

If you aren’t turning the dials you aren’t engaged with the product. If you are going to pay for something you need to always test its boundaries. Otherwise everything you ever do with anyone is going to be nothing but mediocre. This also gives your rep the opportunity to bring you the newest thing they saw someone else doing that is easy ti implement. Doesn’t cost any money and when your boss asks you how things are going with X. You are able to show that you are actively involved in managing the product and making it better to suite your store.



These 3 simple questions really do help keep meetings short, concise and engaging on both ends. It’s a simple standard that i had to create for myself to keep my insanity and make sure that my meetings were staying productive.



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