Suggestions for Suppliers on Creating and Maintaining Sourcing Relationships
In rounding out the Christmas series, this will be the third and last of my themed blogs *sniff sniff*. I thought it would be fun to make the comparison of myself to the Grinch. Given all the names I’ve been called in my tenure, it’s probably one of the nicer of some names I’ve heard (Can you say pay attention to who dialed into a conference call)!If you can walk away with even just one new idea on how to get your foot in the door, increase engagements or obtain better responses – I’ll consider the article a success. Growing the Grinch’s heart is no easy feat, so grab your eggnog and dive in!
Have you ever wondered why your email or cold calls go unanswered? What about once you’ve made contact, is your sourcing partner still hard to get ahold of and do they continue to push you off again and again? What about at the RFP process? It starts with constant communication and now *Silence.* So, is your sourcing business partner acting like the Grinch? If they are how do you get them to respond?
Bring me something new
Please don’t send me an email template or basic capabilities pitch. If you keep sending/forwarding the same copy and paste email, it’s going straight to the trash. It’s just as impersonal as it is transparent. Take five minutes to do research about my company or position to customize your email. Give me a relevant business cases with your latest work. There’s nothing worse than getting an email about sourcing raw materials when it’s completely irrelevant to my position.
How about a survey? I know what you are saying right now … OH HELL NO – people hate surveys lady Grinch! I would agree 100%, except for the ones that give you the chance to win a gift card. Talk about growing my heart three sizes in one day. The company can obtain valuable information on if/when I would be looking for their services. I get the chance for free money (free is for me!). And offer free training services on your subject matter expertise for 30, 60 or 120 minutes as part of the survey. Create a win-win situation.
Please don’t try to trick me
You know who you are. Do you really think you’re the first one with an email with subject being “Sorry I missed your call”, “Our meeting next week” or “Demo you requested”. Don’t try to trick me into talking to you. Like any relationship, one started on the basis of a trick, confusion tactic or outright lie is not going to start off on the right foot. If by some small chance it does work because I’m sleep deprived or overworked, you are probably going to get ghosted (LINK).
Good relationships start on the foundation of trust and respect. If you’ve not started by showing me either, the odds are not “ever in your favor.” Think about how someone has reached out to you and what’s worked. Treat me like your friend or favorite colleague. Just don’t try to pull one over one me, because it won’t end well.
Separate yourself from the competition
Almost every RFP (request for proposal) I’ve done in the past 5 years has included “what separates you from your competition?” And I swear if I have hear one more time that “our focus is on the customer ” – I’m going on a Grinch’s rampage.
Because let’s just think about that response for a minute. If your focus WASN’T on us as a client, how good of a business partner would you be? How long would you think you could keep the business for? Bottom line, please entice me with something good like exclusive technology or industry insight only you have. Just come up with something original. Even if it’s just something that will make me laugh.
Keep working at the relationship
Now that you’ve made nice with lady Grinch, remember it’s a relationship. It takes trust, work and compromise. You can’t just expect to get everything you want out of it and assume the other party will still be happy… can you? Of course not. Stealing Christmas was a good idea at first, but you’ll be just as likely to be left out lonely and in the cold.
Work on maintaining the relationship. Include sourcing in relevant emails/calls and onsite visits or ask them if they have time. Tell me you’ve got new ideas for the business to become more efficient and THEN send a meeting invite. Constructive feedback is always welcome. So like any other relationship, little things can go a long way.
So remember, the Grinch’s heart CAN grow. Just remember to make it a partnership, not a sale. Be yourself. Be authentic. Most importantly of all, make the effort year round. Because if you do you may just find the Grinch has not only become a friend, but a newly formed ally!