We’re all busy. And when a supplier says “Can I use you as a reference?” some of us invariably sigh, visualizing our phones ringing off the hook with calls from our supplier’s prospective customers and more of our already limited time being sucked right out of our schedules.
While I do advocate appropriately protecting your time, being a supplier’s reference doesn’t have to be all about sacrifice and work. It can benefit you, too.
I was reminded of this earlier in the week when I called an executive of a prospective supplier’s customer. This guy was not one of the supplier’s “official” references. But I knew he was a customer and thought that I may get more objective feedback from someone other than the official references provided by the supplier.
When I reached this executive, of course, I was interrupting his work. He asked for a moment while he finished typing a critical email.
After that, we had quite an interesting discussion about the supplier about which I had questions. But the value of the conversation went from being one-sided to mutual.
Well, he used the opportunity that our conversation presented to pick my brain as well.
It seemed as if he was struggling with a certain procurement-related issue and was perhaps hesitant to ask someone else for “free advice” for fear of burdening them. But, because he was giving free advice during this call, he was in a situation where it was absolutely appropriate for him to ask for free advice.
I was able to point him in the direction of a supplier that we’ve used for a service that he was looking to procure. So, he got as much value out of the conversation as I did.
So, the next time you’re asked to be a supplier reference, consider doing it. It may give you a unique opportunity to network with your peers and ask for advice about your most pressing issues without the guilt associated with “bothering” someone for their expertise.
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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