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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Trusted Advisor or Vendor: How to Tell the Difference

Written by  Duane Bailey

Regardless of which side of the buyer-seller chasm you’re on, here’s a simple way of determining the type of business relationship you’re in. It lies in the answer to this singular question: “How much is your budget?”

When I was a technology sales representative for a Fortune 500 brand, I would spend hours with my clients trying to understand their business objectives. Before I could design a solution that could address those needs, I would ask them about their budget.

When I changed roles and became a customer, I had my own set of business needs and challenges. I relied on a number of suppliers for help in achieving the results I desired. Almost without exception, one of the first questions I heard from them concerned the size of my budget.    

Aside from being a good indicator of how serious buyers were about addressing their challenges, how I and my customers answered this question was ultimately a window into the type of business relationship that existed between buyer and seller.

The buyers who were reluctant to share this information, for fear that the solution might be deliberately priced to consume their entire budget, did not trust their salesperson. To them, the salesperson was just another vendor who was more interested in his or her sales commission than the customer's personal and organizational success.

The buyers who viewed their salesperson as a trusted advisor, however, were open and transparent. They gladly shared this information with the seller. They knew that if the buyer and seller shared ownership in the success of the initiative, including the management of its resulting costs, mutually beneficial results would follow.

Think about the answer you get (or give) the next time this question is asked. What kind of business relationship do you have with your seller (or buyer)?

Duane Bailey

Duane Bailey

Duane Bailey is a regular contributor to The Chief Storyteller® online conversation. He has helped organizations of all sizes drive growth in revenues and market share through the development and delivery of key business messages that resonate with target audiences. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BS in Marketing. He brings 28 years of experience in marketing communications and high technology sales.

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