When you’re on the buying end of a B2B relationship, it can be easy to think that formality is pretty much a given. While you certainly need to have a certain degree of professionalism, supplier-client relationships that are overly formal can often smother the communication and trust that’s necessary for long-term success. If you’re afraid that your supplier relationships are becoming strained, here are some helpful tips for improving them…
Have Great Communication Channels
Communication is an essential part of any relationship, whether that’s between two businesses or two individuals. This is very important to keep in mind when looking to improve your supplier relationships. By establishing and maintaining consistent, dependable channels of communication, you’ll create a greater level of transparency on both sides of the table, and reduce the chances of any kind of hiccups and misunderstandings. If and when these issues do come up, having great communication channels to fall back on can be extremely invaluable. If you ordered a shipment of rubber soles and the supplier delivered several spools of garden hose, I’m sure you’ll agree that you’d want to get in contact with them pretty quickly! If you’re not sure of how dependable the tools of communication you’re using are, this is a great place to start.
Remember You’re Not their Only Client
Procurement officers, and business owners who are heavily involved in the procurement process, will know what it’s like to have to deal with multiple suppliers and customers on a day-to-day basis. This kind of mentality should be applied to supplier relationship management, too. There are always going to be little bumps in the road, no matter what business you look at. You’re not the sole customer of your main supplier, so it’s important to be able to give them the benefit of the doubt when (not if!) your needs aren’t met instantaneously time and time again. Assert priority to your suppliers, sure. Just don’t over-communicate your demands. When you’re able to be understanding like this, it will create a mutual rapport and respect, which could be extremely handy to fall back on in the future.
Control Your Finger-Pointing
Finding someone to blame during a stressful business dispute is totally understandable, and justified in a lot of cases. However, if you want to keep your supplier relationships as healthy as possible, you need to distribute blame equally. When things go awry, and a buyer places all the blame on the supplier’s processes, materials and so on, it can end the relationship in an instant. When communications are strained and problems come up, it’s essential that you look at the situation critically, and from both parties’ perspectives. If you can have an open conversation about the issue in question, and realise the fault on both sides of the table, you’ll show your supplier a tremendous amount of respect that they may not be getting from other clients. This, in turn, can lead to a much stronger professional bond.
If your supplier relationships are beginning to falter, apply these three tips to turn things around.