Marketing guru Seth Godin hits the nail on the head with his look at Talent and Vendors. Please go read it. As resellers we are technically vendors but the “Value Added” part is what makes the difference. The application of talent to deliver the right solution is what sets one reseller apart from another.
From the article: “That’s the key economic argument for the distinction: if you treat an artist like a vendor, you’ll often get mediocre results in return. On the other hand, if you treat a vendor like an artist, you’ll waste time and money.”
And: “A key element of the distinction is that in addition to the varying output potential, vendors are easier to replace than talent is.”
Personally, I hate when I’m trying to apply “Talent” ie. a novel solution, a cheaper solution, etc. and get treated like a “Vendor”. Some of my favorites are “We’ll just white that out when they print on the P.O.’s” or “We’ll just track that in Excel.”
Understanding which clients want talent and which ones just want a vendor is an important part of the relationship. Of course, then there there are companies that want to get talent but only pay for a vendor.