Building Good Supplier Relationships, Part II

Are You Likeable To Your Suppliers?

PurchTips Edition #393

In the last edition of PurchTips , I wrote about how a key to building good supplier relationships is being a likeable person. I also shared the first of five things procurement professionals can do to be more likeable. Here are the remaining four:

2. Build Rapport. Too often, we want to “just get down to business.” Within 30 seconds of starting a meeting, we’re already discussing business matters. That’s not always good. Small talk – asking about your contact’s family, hobbies, background, etc. – helps make you more likeable. When you remember your contact’s interests and begin meetings by bringing those things up, it makes you more likeable. This may not seem important until you need “over and above the call of duty” level help. By then, it’s too late. Your supplier has already prioritized bigger and more likeable customers.

3. Make Regular Contact. Speak with your strategic supplier contacts at all times, including when things are going smoothly. If you’re only heard from when things go wrong, it’s hard to be any supplier’s favorite customer.

4. Compliment Your Contact To The Right People. If your contact is not the CEO, s/he has a boss. When you and your contact are in the presence of his/her boss, compliment your contact with something like “It’s been such a pleasure working with Sharon. She’s a true customer advocate and rises up to every challenge.” Things like that can positively influence your contact’s performance appraisal and, thus, his/her salary. Plus, it makes them feel good. When you make a difference in someone’s life like that, they will go the proverbial extra mile to make sure you get especially good service.

5. Don’t Go Too Crazy When Things Go Wrong. As much as we think that smart procurement can eradicate all supplier performance problems, problems are bound to happen now and then. While it is important to communicate how dire your situation is in tough times, don’t get nasty with your contact. The problem may not be your contact’s fault, so personal insults, threats, and the like will only serve to hurt your relationship. Work at joint problem solving, a method that is improvable and sustainable. Going ballistic may occasionally get a situation resolved, but it’s not a technique that will work repeatedly over the course of a long-term relationship.

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Copyright 2018. This article is the property of the Next Level Purchasing Association and may not be copied or republished in any form without the express written consent of the Next Level Purchasing Association. Click here to request republishing permission.

By Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

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