To read all seven parts of the What Vendors Want series, click here.

“Do we really have to talk about business?”

You do if you want a business partnership with a vendor.

Whether a vendor is large or small, they put a lot of effort into partner recruitment. It is very important for them to create the appropriate partner profile for their needs and to find the solution providers who best fit that profile. This process entails a great deal of research that results in a list of partner candidates to be contacted, which in itself takes a substantial amount of time. When a vendor contacts you, they want to quickly determine if your company is a suitable partner for a business relationship. You have no choice but to talk about business – their requirements and if you can meet them.

As I mentioned in Part I, be prepared. If you have been contacted by a vendor, no matter whether you have heard of them or not, do your research for the next meeting.  Peruse their website for information on company background, products, services, partner programs, and current partners. Ask them directly what they expect from a partner and request they send partner guidelines or a partnership criteria list along with an overview of their channel program. If a meeting is scheduled, ask them to provide a mutual non-disclosure agreement to be signed by both parties prior to the business discussion.

So, what does a vendor want to know about you?

  • Company stability
  • Financial security, soundness, and structure
  • Company longevity
  • Owners/Executive Management
  • Privately held or public
  • Number of employees
  • How you make money — products, service, etc.
  • Are you a solid and functional business practice?
  • Ability to participate in partner incentive programs – MDF, rebates, etc.
  • How you conduct business
  • Do you have the resources to re-sell their products and services?

On the upside, taking the time to prepare answers to the vendor’s business inquiries can lead to participation in a partner program that increases your revenue and helps you build your business. A possible downside is realizing your company may not be as stable as you thought. But, by going through the exercise in preparing for the vendor, you now have a better idea how your company is running and the opportunity to make changes that lead to positive results.

TIP: Develop a process to manage future vendor recruitment calls and meetings.

This article originally appeared in VARinsights.