You remember how, in the schoolyard, certain people were so difficult to be around that you just began to avoid them?
That still happens. In client-vendor relationships. And sometimes, it’s the client company that is poisoning the relationship.
Why do certain vendors begin to have an allergic reaction to specific clients, and start to back away?
Here are the main issues I’ve seen:
- Hostile Attitude – “We’re the client, we have the money, and you’re our servant.” This disrespectful and arrogant posture is a formula for future failure. It ensures that only the most desperate yes-vendors do work for a client-with-attitude.
- Non-Communication – Vendors that don’t get clear instructions and updates during a proposal process – or, that don’t even get a notice or explanation once a bid has been awarded to someone else – often decline the next “opportunity” to be frustrated by the prospective client.
- Convoluted Process – This usually occurs when Procurement drives the outsourcing bus. Process moves from being a help to being an entangling and confusing hindrance.
- Feeling Used – When a vendor feels like they’ve gone through a time-consuming and expensive process of bidding on a project that basically goes to an incumbent (maybe with a few “borrowed” ideas from other proposals), that vendor concludes that they don’t have a fair shot at gaining the work. Hence – a hesitancy to invest time in future work where they might actually be the best choice.
Not all of these things can be changed by training professionals seeking outsource suppliers, and there isn’t always a bad motive at the core of each difficult client-vendor relationship. But these are some warning signs.
Just as clients choose vendors, vendors also choose clients.
Bill Senger says
Once again, Steve, you are never shy about broaching topics that few others dare to address. In my 30 years of consulting I’ve experienced all four of the issues you describe, and have often wondered why such dysfunctional behavior occurs. It’s all counter-productive and often results in higher costs and longer turnaround times—not the kind of effect any thinking client would want to introduce to a project. What some fail to realize is that many vendors would be quite happy to provide an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and we don’t need to be treated like rented mules to ensure motivation.
Steve Woodruff says
I’m a troublemaker. But, trying to save others from making trouble for themselves!