August 23, 2018

The Dangers of a “Prove Yourself” Mindset In a Vendor/Client Relationship

By David Saxe

Starting any new relationship typically tugs at our insecurities. The pressure to make the right first impression. And what do we typically do on first dates when we look back on them? We probably made fools of ourselves and are floored they gave us a second date.

In vendor/client relationships, in my experience, these same tendencies tend to bubble up because it’s new. Because we’ve been taught professionally that we have to “prove ourselves” and make a strong first impression. When we’re thinking this way, we’re acting…not being. And that’s not going to work out for either of us.

Vendors. We’re constantly selling. We’re competing. But I can tell you, without question, that if you’re trying to prove yourself to a prospect or client, you’re driving them insane. The vendor doesn’t have to be the “pursuer” in the relationship. If your business is good enough to help your clients do more business, than they need you. It’s mutual. We have to believe that.

If the best looking girl in high school called me 15 times in an hour, I wouldn’t have been excited about it – I’d assume there was something wrong with her and would forget entirely how attractive she was. If you’re the best at what you do or you genuinely offer a service that helps people or businesses, you don’t have to sell – just inform. Fight your insecurities to hit sales goals and the inclination to prove yourself. If you’re good, they’ll call ya back. 😉

Listen to your clients. Vendors with something to prove over-talk. As vendors, we can’t possibly produce work that meets business objectives for our clients if we don’t listen well enough to understand what those objectives are. Insecure people tend to not listen because they’re already formulating the next thing they’re going to say (I’m totally guilty of this).

Lastly, admit what you suck at. There’s not much that will establish trust faster than being really comfortable with your strengths and weaknesses, self-aware and confident enough to state them.

Clients. A “prove yourself” mindset here, typically manifests itself as treating vendors like you’re doing them a favor. Or like they have nothing valuable to add. Insecure clients need their vendors to know that they’re in a position of power.

I’m on the vendor side, so I’ll keep this encouragement brief: treat your vendors as collaborative partners–essential pieces to help you accomplish a business objective. Then hold them to it. If you’re a jerk to your vendor, guess what? You just pushed him or her back into “prove yourself” land if they’re even motivated enough to continue working with you at all. You want a confident partner who works hard and adds value, I promise. Trying to make them scared of you is actually counter-productive and makes your vendor less valuable.

Metaphor alert: If you wanted a new custom-designed rocking chair, you hire a carpenter to hear your goals and apply his/her skillset to design and build that chair. If you treat your vendors like a tool instead of a partner, you’re not going to get a carpenter at all–you’re just going to get a handsaw. The handsaw needs you to do all the work. The carpenter can take the goal, formulate a plan and execute it.

Hopefully this is helpful advice based on my experience. Vendors and clients alike, if we can stop trying to prove ourselves and just be secure in our own strengths and weaknesses, dating will hopefully get a whole lot less awkward for all of us.