Episode 5 - Vendor Reciprocation

Your business spends with a bunch of vendors. Why aren’t they spending with you

Episode 5 - Vendor Reciprocation
Photography by Nicoletta Photography. Don't steal it.

Context: Your business spends with a bunch of vendors. Why aren’t they spending with you? Robert Cialdini says it best:

Buy all his books.

We are wired to return favors and pay back debts—to treat others as they've treated us. The idea of reciprocity says that people, by nature, feel obliged to provide discounts or concessions to others if they've received favors from those same people.

A meeting about a relevant business problem is not too much to ask. Being a customer may not be enough. First - ask how you can help your buyer and their business. Do it. Then ask.

Effort: High

Where to look:  Ask Finance, Ops, or department heads for a list of vendors, renewal dates, and internal owners.

“Sarah, ok if I ask for your help? I’m collecting data on vendors we spend with every month/year. Why? It’s my job to find new sales opportunities. If we spend with them. They may spend with us.
Huge imposition - do you have a list of vendors, renewal dates, and internal owners handy?
Copying Kelly (Dir Sales Dev), who's blessed this and can't wait to send you a Lululemon gift card ;-)"

Step 1: Prioritize

Goal - a short list of high-quality and high-velocity opportunities.

Does the vendor fit ideal customer and/or account firmographics profile?

Do we have relevant social proof?

Do we have a renewal date within X days? X = Average time to close + 30 days (to book meetings)

Do we intend to renew?

*If you intend to switch. Run a similar play on the 2-3 vendors the internal owner would like to explore.

Step 2: Support

SDR to Internal owner.

“Steve - we’ve never met. Just starting out as an SDR on Kelly’s team. Trying to get to your level one day - fingers crossed!
You spend with AWS, Docker, and Snowflake, right? Asking because they fit our customer profile. If we make it REALLY easy - open to helping us get in front of the right people?
Copying Kelly (Dir Sales Dev), who blessed this and says you owe her a favor ;-)"

SDR Leader / VP Sales to CXO.

"Lucy - we're trying to get into AWS, Docker, and Snowflake. We spend with them. They may spend with us.
Nothing pushy, but can I ghostwrite you a couple of notes to send to maximize our chances?
{INTERNAL OWNER} is onboard.”


  • Will you leave a G2 (or equivalent) review for the vendor?
  • Send notes to AE / CS, DECISION MAKER, or CEO? We’ll ghostwrite.

Step 3: Execute Plays

1) Internal Owner to AE / CS

“Jess - ok if I ask a tiny favor? Sales saw that we were connected. They’re trying to get {DECISION MAKER}’s attention.
No clue if improving {JOB TO BE DONE} is top of mind, but can we connect our teams to work that out? Here’s {RELEVANT SOCIAL PROOF} for context.
PS - just left a glowing G2 review without taking the $10 gift card - generous, I know”

2) Internal Owner to Decision Marker

“Erin - we’ve not met. Very happy Snowflake customers for ~3 years. I even left you a glowing G2 review. No gift card - you’re welcome ;-)
Zero obligation, but do you struggle with {PROBLEM}? If so, here’s {RELEVANT SOCIAL PROOF}.
If timing is good, meet {AE}. She promises not to bore you with slide decks”

3) SDR to DM-1

"Steve - we're customers (see G2), so you should definitely respond ;-)
Does ACME ring any bells? {DECISION MAKER} or {AE/CS} may have mentioned us. Either way, if {JOB TO BE DONE} sucks for you. Here’s {RELEVANT SOCIAL PROOF}.
Should I share an explainer for the future?”

4) CXO to CEO

“Jaleh - you’ll like this. I asked the team to cut software spend, but Jess tells me she couldn’t live without Snowflake. Here’s her G2 review.
Tiny ask. Trying to help out sales. Does {DECISION MAKER}’s team own {JOB TO BE DONE}? If so, mind sharing {RELEVANT SOCIAL PROOF}?
We’d love to earn a glowing G2 review from your team one day!"

In the wild:

We're running this play as we speak. Stay tuned for updates.

Tyler Lessard, VP Marketing, @ Vidyard (Video Tools for Sales). At my old place, we signed for Vidyard Premium ($5K ish ARR) and I got his fantastic book from Amazon ($21.53). Tyler connected us with his team. Problem was real. Timing was right. Closed won (~$140K ARR).

Chris Black, H o Marketing @ Rattle (best slack, salesforce + more alerting tech). We switched from Troops (which sucks). Saved a few hundred $. Got a meeting and an opportunity. No $ but conversation started.

Michael Pannone, Dir Demand Gen @ Salesloft (best sales engagement platform). No meeting or $ but conversation started.


  • Don't expect reciprocation just because you're a customer or left a G2 review. The business problem has to be big enough. Timing has to be right. Expect a response - that's it.
  • Give first. Yes, you're giving the vendor money already. For each business or buyer, you should be asking yourself, "How can I help?".  "Help" is not a one-and-done, either.
  • You have no clout (yet) as an SDR. You need internal support. Make it easy for leaders to help you win without asking for their most precious resource - TIME. It must be frictionless. You'll spend more time collecting data and gaining internal support than executing plays.
  • Rinse and repeat every quarter, focusing on new vendors and upcoming renewal dates.

Don't hold back. I've got skin thicker than James Corden.

See you soon for episode 6 - Podcast Panning