Engaged in a face to face discussion to rebuild a key business partner relationship
VP of Engineering at Puzzle
I worked at a company that relied on a business partner for a critical revenue impacting business function. Our choices were replace them, which meant messy contract negotiations, modifying revenue impacting systems, and diverting resources from other key projects. Or we could find a way to mend the relationship. I inherited the vendor when I took on a new role and didn't want to rely completely on what I had heard of the vendor through emails and phone calls. It was at a point where lawyers were involved, yet it didn't feel quite right.
I decided to reach out to our account representative at the company and engage in a more direct conversation. It turned out that they had a branch office a few blocks away and our rep worked out of that office. Rather than engage in a lengthy email back and forth, online meetings, etc. I decided to walk over and talk to them directly. We went out for coffee and were able to iron out the key issues facing both our companies. It turned out that the main issues were personality conflicts between one of our employees and one of their support engineers. Unchecked it had escalated almost beyond repair. A lot of early miscommunication, misunderstanding had led to the issues between our companies.
I learned a number of things from this experience. For starters, it's best to have constructive discussions and open dialog on difficult issues. Also, while it's important to look at all existing data it really helps to do your own legwork and find out for yourself what the real issues could be. My instincts told me that the partnership was worth salvaging, especially since the technical components of their product were good. I went to them with an open mind about which direction to take the partnership and that allowed me to explore the best option. Don't go with preconceived notions- find out for yourself.
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