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Technology vendor or strategic partner?

Natalie Alesi

Tech vendors may market themselves as a strategic partner, how can you be confident they’ll follow through on that promise? There are some clear signals that a partner will stay by your side through thick and thin. My goal for writing this blog post today is to share these clues with you.Business Reporter: Is your tech vendor a strategic partner… or just a vendor?

What behaviors say "strategic partner" in a tech vendor?

They set aside the window dressing

How well does the vendor understand your business challenges and the outcomes you are looking to achieve? This kind of understanding takes time, research, and personal attention. Time is money for any business, so if you are continually having to remind them what problems you want to solve or what success looks like to your organization, that’s an alarm bell. Although it is natural for a vendor to talk about their solution’s features and benefits, that is just one part of the equation in understanding the challenges you may face in this partnership.

They cross the aisle

Someone in one department may have initiated the search for a technology solution, but they are not an island. Your vendor should be interested in reaching out to all stakeholders to get their buy-in and facilitate change management. Be prepared to help the vendor make those connections to ensure the success of the project.

They’re building a customer base, not meeting a quota

If they’ve done their homework, and their solution isn’t ideal for their needs or won’t produce the desired outcome, a vendor who wants to be a strategic partner will say so. They know that the best customers are satisfied customers and customers who become advocates. If the solution isn’t right for any reason — even if it is simply a matter of timing or resources — an objective evaluation marks a vendor you can trust when circumstances change.

They know the sale is only the beginning

Onboarding phase, or realizing value

A strategic partner enthusiastically embraces going the distance with each new customer. They know that a well-orchestrated onboarding phase helps to demonstrate the value of the solution to the organization. Accelerating time-to-value is especially critical when not everyone was on board with the decision to implement.

Adoption phase, or expanding knowledge

Strong adoption often follows a successful onboarding, but it is by no means guaranteed. A strategic partner is with you throughout this process, advising leadership and providing whatever support is necessary to help users be comfortable and see the value in putting the solution to work. This is not a time for them to let you go it alone.

Loyalty phase, or evolving outcomes

In time, as your problems change and your desired outcomes evolve, your strategic partnership begins to pay off in entirely new ways. With new functionality and solutions, the right partner can help your organization reach for a higher level of maturity in both perspective and performance.

Your success is their success

Whether we love it or hate it, new technology is a constant in today’s fast-evolving business environment. Tech vendors come and go, but a “strategic partner” is forever. And a solution provider truly embodies that name when they show you (rather than tell you) that they’re prepared to invest the time, energy, and resources necessary to deliver value consistently throughout the customer lifecycle.

I hope these tips help you to judge how much of a strategic partner a potential tech vendor really is — and wish your organization every success in the process.


Read more from Natalie Alesi on this topic in Business Reporter.

About the author

Natalie Alesi

Natalie has 20+ years of legal and technology experience in both customer-facing and senior leadership roles. She specializes in building and executing customer success initiatives.