It’s Not You, It’s Me. I Swear. The Vicious Supplier Dating Game.


Dating and Suppliers


I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before. Maybe I haven’t. Either way, there is a direct parallel between dating and supplier relationships.

When you think about the similarities, there are too many to count.

The dating/exploratory period is key. You may wind up ghosted. Transparency and trust can make an enormous difference. There’s always a lot of negotiating. There are a lot of jerks out there!

If you thought marriage is scary, you should view signing a 60-page contract as mortifying. That’s just the beginning…

Common Dating Starting Point

When you start dating, where do you go? Online dating sites, social media apps, or even a quick search on google?  Well, the same goes for suppliers.

You have multiple sources you can search through to find someone to fit your needs. And once you find someone, the dating game begins.

You start by cyber-stalking them. You check out their FB, Insta, and other accounts, along with a background check and reference search.

Let’s be real, you don’t want to end up in a relationship with someone who lacks values or a moral compass. The implications and complications from choosing a shitty partner, are endless. We’ve all been on the short end of the stick on this one, and we both know it’s not pretty.

That’s why doing your research is so important. Ensuring you have a best-in-class partner, can make or break your business or happiness for years to come. So it makes sense to take the time and thoroughly vet them before you invite them over to meet your parents.

Serious Dating and Engagement

I suppose you aren’t bringing a supplier home to meet your parents, but you still have executives or decision-makers they will need to impress. So you can’t just bring anyone home, or into your business. Are you?!

Not to mention, we both know first impressions can last a lifetime. In your personal life and at work. That’s why going through and vetting someone is critical prior to bringing them home.

When you think about the RFI, RFP, RFQ process, it provides a good structure to ensure you bring the right person home or qualified for the final down-selection. Which will give you, the finalist who you’ll eventually want to propose, or contract with. (You’re going to be spending a lot of time with either, so you’ve got to get things right!)

It's Not You, It's Me. I Swear. The Vicious Supplier Dating Game. 1

Marriage and Contracting


If you’re married, most likely you probably took more than a couple of months of dating prior to getting married.  But isn’t it funny we don’t do that with our suppliers?

Shouldn’t they be the ones we spend the most time with considering they could make/break our business (depending on the type of service/product they provide)?

It’s interesting that business partners will push to fly through the RFP process at lightening speed (weeks or days), then not understand why they didn’t get what they needed from the supplier. Or why the relationship went sour.

Just as in any other situation, rushing into things can end up being a recipe for disaster. Especially when it comes to signing a lengthy contract that can put you in a bad situation for years.

After getting married, you can always quickly get it annulled or even after awhile a divorce. But if you value your time and money, it’s not ideal. Just like it’s not ideal to exit a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal if you can help it.


So what’s the point of the dating analogy?


1. It’s a relationship

Well, first and most importantly, it’s a relationship.  If you want to have a good one, you have to take care of it. You need open and transparent conversations, and trust. You need to figure out what “good” looks like to both of you ahead of time.


2. Abusive behavior is counter-productive

You always have the alternative if you have the the buyer power, to then beat up your suppliers. Low margins, one way negotiations, and NET 180 standard payment terms.

But what type of worker or company do you think you’ll get to stay in this situation for the long-haul? Probably not the one you want. Not to mention, you’re missing out on the potential innovation that could make you more profitable.


3. You have to give to get

As with any relationship, it can’t be one sided. If you’re married and your spouse is the one doing all of the house work, plus watching the kids and is the family breadwinner, don’t expect it to last forever.

Each person, side, or supplier has to feel like they are valued and have a partner who is putting in as much as they are.  Nobody likes to feel like they are constantly giving with nothing coming back in return.


4. Don’t rest on your laurels

I’ve seen it in relationships of all kinds.  One person gets complacent, maybe thinks they have the edge, and then they get lazy. With suppliers, it’s easy to spot and kick them into high gear with an RFP.  And remember, there is ALWAYS someone willing to take another’s place!

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