I have a reputation for asking direct questions, and today was no different. I vendor that my company is dealing with has a product that is designed for our customers. So of course, they would like for us to talk about their product, and hopefully recommend it over their competitors. That's when I asked: "What's in it for me?" No, I don't mean, me personally, I mean for my company. How would proposing a third party vendor would makes my company stand out. And why do I have to ask a this question in a conversation about a business "relationship"
Lets look a the bigger picture. There are strong business relationships and there are weak ones. In a weak relationship, two companies work together by not stepping on each others toes, at least not too much and not every day. I can mention an unrelated product, I might even provide positive feedback, may be even recommend it to my customers. But all that comes without any direct benefit to my business.
In a strong business relationship, two companies work together to provide a better business solution for their customers. This relationship has to work both ways, and has to have a very clear and visible benefit to everyone involved. It has to be a wide, two way street.
This is happens all the time. Software and Hardware vendors communicate all on regular basis through these relationships. DELL and HP partner with Microsoft to make sure their hardware and software is tested for compatibility. Oracle partners with Sun to make sure they can properly scale and utilize the technological advances. Game developers work with console vendors to create games, and console vendors support game developers so their consoles have popularity.
So lets all work together for the benefit of both teams, I am all for it. I'll just make a note to myself, to always make sure I tell the other party what they will get out of a business relationship with me during the presentation. That way I'll avoid the question "What's in it for me?"