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client_vendor_meetingLast week we made a brief trip to visit a client of ours, a very large real estate organization here in the Mid-Atlantic States. Many of you will recognize this scenario – long-term client with new leadership regime in place, expiring contract and many questions about us. From a client management perspective, this is a typical red flag situation.

However, this client is far from typical. The new VP in charge of our area of the business carved out more than two hours of time with his team to answer our questions about their strategy, critical 2014 initiatives and KPI’s. They shared their pain points, gave candid feedback on the pros and cons of our prior performance, and were completely open to our guidance and support. Together we lamented the roadblocks to innovation often prevalent in our industry, yet shared excitement about the reawakening finally underway. I cannot recall having a more enjoyable and productive meeting.

What this client clearly understood is the simple fact that the client-vendor relationship works best when both parties are rowing the same boat, moving together to achieve identifiable and measurable objectives. Critical to accomplishing this alignment is openness among the participants to share goals and measurements, successes and challenges, questions and concerns. Vendors need to talk more about what they see and experience in the industry and less about their wares; clients need to share more about what is really going on in their organizations and be willing to ask for help. Both sides need to be honest and willing to listen to each other.

I don’t know if last week’s visit will result in more or less revenue for Onboard Informatics in the near-term. What I do know is that the client has put the ball in our court, where it should be, to prove that we can demonstrably help them achieve their clearly-defined objectives. If we can, there’s a place for us. If not, then we’ll still have a strong relationship, and I’ll bet some time down the road we’ll get a shot to work together again.

Regardless of which label you wear in a given situation (client/vendor), commit to taking one step deeper in your partner relationships. I promise you’ll quickly reap the rewards.

Jonathan Bednarsh is the co-founder and President/COO of Onboard Informatics. Since 2001, Onboard has transformed complex real estate data into content-based tools that foster human engagement and accelerate business across web and mobile platforms. For more information, visit www.onboardinformatics.com.

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