Vendor partnerships and difficult conversations

By Chris O'Brien on
I am currently completing some leadership training as part of my internal development plan and a topic on difficult conversations got me to thinking about my client relationships. The best relationships I have had the pleasure of being involved in are open and honest ones. Each side speaks their mind, without threat or accusation, and the other has the chance to respond.

As a result, I’m a big fan of asking, and pushing for answers on each of the three following questions:

  • What are we doing well and should continue with?
  • What are we not doing well and should stop?
  • What should we be doing that we are not and therefore need to start?

They are simple questions, but not offered, asked or answered in many relationships. They are really just prompts to start a conversation about what is really the issue or problem in the back of a customer’s, or vendor’s, mind. Customers may feel they lack value or that their suppliers don’t understand their business, but without having some difficult conversations, improvement is unlikely and the status quo will likely remain..

At Oxygen, a DXC Technologies Company we have the pleasure of many long term relationships. We don’t often lose clients outside of a technical decision to move away from SAP, but when it has happened, I don’t doubt it is because the difficult conversations weren’t had.

And why do I think this is important? I believe we should be looking to strip out administration costs that come from the traditional hours or tickets based billing models, and moving towards outcome based services. This will never be possible if the vendor and customer can’t talk clearly about what is working and what isn’t, but it has huge opportunities for both sides of the table. If you’re keen to pay a price that you clearly see as valuable for the outcome provided, then you must first ensure you can have a difficult conversation with your vendor when it is warranted.

Keen to talk about how a deeper partnership with your support provider might be possible or how outcome based services might deliver better value? Give me a call.

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