Know the Difference between a Vendor and a Partner

Know the Difference between a Vendor and a Partner

Know the Difference between a Vendor and a Partner

By William A. Lederer, Chairman and CEO, iSOCRATES


Do you know the difference between a vendor and a partner? It’s an important distinction because while a vendor can certainly lighten your workload, a true partner can take that relationship to the next level and help your business thrive.


We recently posted “How to Write an RFP to Help You Find the Right Vendor“, which provides a helpful checklist for finding a vendor specifically, a vendor to which to outsource your MADTech media and marketing services. Ideally, you want to find a vendor with whom that you can form a successful, long-term partnership.


Download our whitepaper, The iSOCRATES Guide to MADTech Media and Marketing Services Sourcing.


Partnership is defined as “a contractual vendor association involving close cooperation between parties having specified and joint rights and responsibilities.” But it can be more than that. A partnership can vastly improve your work process when you collaborate with trusted advisors that you consider friends.


Is Your Resource a Vendor or a Partner?

Here are some questions to ask about your existing vendor relationships:

  • Does your vendor come to you to discuss differences of opinion or new ideas?
  • Does your vendor really listen to your needs and act on them?
  • Do you enjoy working with your vendor?
  • Do you trust your vendor to always act in your best interest?
  • Do you feel like you can freely take concerns or issues to your vendor without judgement or conflict?
  • Do you feel like your vendor is consistently meeting your goals and exceeding your expectations?
  • Do you feel like your vendor is more than just an order-taker, providing advice and guidance as you need it?

If your answer to all these questions is yes, you have the makings of a beautiful partnership. If not, you may want to consider a different vendor one who can form a more productive and successful relationship with you.


A vendor supplies a product or service to a client. A partner, on the other hand, becomes an extension of the client’s business

How is a partnership better than a standard vendor relationship?


A partner has your back. A partner is deeply invested in your business and will do what it takes to ensure you succeed.


A partner understands their role. They are not just yes-men and order-takers. A true partner will work with you, listen to you, and provide guidance and advice to make your job easier.


A partner will find customize a solution for you. Traditional vendors will often push technology or strategies that don’t fit your unique situation, apply “cookie-cutter” approaches, and make lots of promises to get your business. You want someone who will work closely with you to fill your specific needs.


A partner will talk to you  even about the hard stuff. True partners respect each other and are not afraid to discuss any issue. They will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. A successful partnership is one where both parties are happy working together and are getting the results they want.


A partner will collaborate and compromise. Because a partner only want what’s best for your business, there is less drama and conflict. Everyone is on the same side. Both partners should be willing to listen and compromise to best serve everyone’s interests.


A partner contributes more than just their product or service. A partner will go beyond just their standard services, working with your business to identify and develop new opportunities by contributing their expertise, experience and resources.


A partner focuses on people more than numbers. A true partner cares about their relationship with you and your associates, and treats people with respect and kindness. You want a partner who has integrity, is trustworthy, and that you genuinely enjoy working with.


At iSOCRATES, we believe strongly in the concept of partnering wisely with our clients, because we’ve seen first hand the value of these relationships and what they can achieve. If you’re interested in working with partners rather than mere vendors, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us.

How can we partner to create value for you?


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