Supplier relationships - are you the Alpha or the Beta?

Do you need to become the “Alpha” in your supplier relationship? I think this is an interesting read that is relevant in a variety of industries.

Ever been the “Beta” - “many of the suppliers still withheld parts of their product offering claiming territory or channel conflicts”. I’ve been part of this many times, mainly in previous lives in the software world.Who’s the Alpha now?


@Mike_Kotloski In recent years I’ve started to see a new strategy emerge that bucks the “alpha” vs “beta” relationship. Rather it is one of community and information sharing (now… don’t roll your eyes… I am not about to start a kumbaya chant!). As information becomes more freely available thanks to the internet, the strategy of guarding or touting information is becoming less valued. Moreover, a new strategy is emerging around building communities of trusted partners who freely share what is really going on.

Nobody wants to work with an alpha that takes advantage of their partners. While this “alpha” strategy works well when your relationships are short-lived and when your reputation can be guarded. As information about your reputation becomes more freely available, it is in our best interest to be seen as a good community member who thinks in terms of “win-win” and people want to work with… because as information becomes more readily available… so does peoples ability to choose who they work with…

@Mike_Kotloski have you seen this trend and do you agree?



@Andrew_Gibson, as we develop, market, and sell our own software, we have very little reliance on suppliers or vendors, I can’t really comment on the current state of the supplier relationship, especially in this industry. However, I can tell you that the alpha-beta relationship is still prevalent out there.

I’m going out on a limb here by saying that it is still an old school system that exists with large, possibly public, kind of old world companies, oh say a company like Siemens, just to thrown one out there :wink:
There are still some suppliers that consider vendors & resellers as a necessary evil, and honestly only care about the bottom line and the stock price. The best “beta” is the start child as long as they are filling the coffers, but they can be replaced by the next one at any time.

This is one of the reasons I left that industry and will never work for a public company again. IMO, there is more to life than numbers! This might be a bit of a digression as I originally posted this on LinkedIn as I have a lot of people in my network living the “beta” life. However, it may have been a bit of a fishing tactic to gain intelligence and spurn conversation!!


The alpha-beta relationship is certainly prevalent in the wood markets. Mills often have the upper hand, but the interesting thing about commodity markets is that this relationship can flip as the market evolves… I think this helps keep some people in check. Most alpha players know that eventually… they will need the beta player and so they better play nice!