Broken CLIENT-SUPPLIER Relationship

A new paradigm for this dynamic is needed

Warning: This next part is not for the faint of heart, or for anyone with a strong Ego. It takes courage to accept that what’s happening, is indeed, happening.

Suppliers And Customers Keys Showing Supply Chain Or Distribution


The CLIENT-SUPPLIER Relationship is broken because the foundation upon which all sales models are based is SUPPLIER biased. They all miss The CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0 component. The part that if examined, understood and leveraged, would eliminate all of the dysfunction in the current CLIENT-SUPPLIER RELATIONSHIP.


Suffering, control and resignation are what characterize the current CLIENT-SUPPLIER RELATIONSHIP.


Suppliers suffer through:

  • Sales and marketing efforts, because they never learned effective skills necessary to market themselves and their work.
  • Service delivery and project implementation efforts because most lack the people skills required to effectively relate to their clients.
  • Painful attempts to discuss payments and fees and when they have ‘bad news’ to share with their clients.
  • Profits suffer when suppliers don’t understand the service their clients are actually buying from them, when their clients do not understand their value, articulate their differences or refer their work into their own referral networks. Keep in mind – these are suppliers who do good work, enjoy their work and want to keep doing their work.

Clients suffer through/by:

  • Bad service.
  • Poor or little communication from their suppliers.
  • Not being heard and/or understood by their suppliers.
  • Poor or little project management.
  • Not knowing what they don’t know.
  • When suppliers assume they know what’s best for them.

Who is in Control?

Hand writing Core Values with red marker on transparent wipe board.

Whether it is deliberate or not, control undermines the relationship between clients and suppliers. And more accurately, it is the ‘having’ of the control that underlies the dynamic playing out.

Consider this: The supplier is always trying to “get” control of the buyer’s attention and, ultimately, their wallet.

Consider this: The buyer is trying to “keep” the control (or at least some of it) for fear of being taken advantage of, lied to, manipulated etc. The buyer attempts to keep control by:

  • being difficult to reach,
  • withholding key information
  • not telling the whole story
  • setting the supplier up for failure.

 …and the list goes on…. This concept of getting and keeping control has inadvertently created an “either/or” and a “you win/I lose” scenario. If I have control “I win”, if you have control, “I lose”.

Resignation – The end result


supplier relationship management on a board illustration design over a white backgroundUnless the supplier has chosen a sales profession on purpose, they likely chose to do the work they do because they didn’t want to have to sell. Most “non-sales” professionals get into the business they are in because they like the technical work they do and they are good at it. By the time they get to the end of a project, the joy for their craft is sucked out of them, right along with any desire to manage the necessary client-interface activities.


Clients? Well, by the time they reach the end of a project, they often feel ‘beaten down’ because they’ve compromised so much on either quality, timeline or fees (sometimes all three) and they have been consistently frustrated and disappointed along the way. At this point, most clients want to just move on and be done with it. When faced with the possibility of having to deal with that supplier again, they will either grin and bear it (because the work product is so darn good), or find another supplier in hopes that the next time will be better.

What this has done for us so far

Both sides create an opportunity for a fulfilling experience. NO

There is a consensus on the value that each party brings to the exchange. NO

Co-creation is perceived as negative (the supplier is supposed to have all the answers). YES

Resignation that this is the best it’s going to get sets in. YES

We’re simply not being authentic when we’re struggling to gain or keep control. And contrary to popular belief, suffering is not our natural state. And the worst part? (yes, it gets worse) We’re not even conscious that this toxic dynamic is operating and, more importantly, that we are creating it!

Does it have to be this way? Is all this suffering, controlling and resignation necessary?

We don’t believe it is.

But first, we have to have the courage to acknowledge that the dynamic as it is playing out now is not working.

Then we have to agree to create a better way.

But how can we create a better way? Enter The JoyfulProfit Movement … Join the Movement and let’s change the conversation and our actions in this dynamic!