Work on your supplier relationships and you'll soon see the benefits

In business, we spend a huge amount of our efforts trying to understand what our target customers want, how we can provide it to them, and how we can keep them happy once we've lured them into the fold. It is a fact that is pretty much universally accepted that it is easier to sell both new and existing products to existing customers than to convert leads into new customers, and so smart businesses know the value of strong customer relationships.

Business Handshake (PD)

However, what many businesses tend to take far more for granted is the stability and satisfaction in their relationships with their suppliers. Perhaps when we think of suppliers, we assume they should be the ones doing all the running around to keep us happy, much as we do for our own customers. Instead, it is better to think of them as partners, whose satisfaction and effectiveness directly feeds into our own.

Benefits of Good Supplier Relationships

When your suppliers find it easy to work with you, and think of you as a trusted partner rather than just another user or reseller, you'll begin to see the benefits. Whether it is preferential pricing, or simply being close to the top of their 'mental list' of businesses they supply to when it comes to informing you of changes, offering new products, and rewarding you for your loyalty, you'll certainly find that your efforts to strengthen the relationship are reciprocated. Additionally, the more you talk to and work with your suppliers, the more guidance they can give you in selling or using their products, which can ultimately boost either your bottom line, or your productivity (depending if you are the end user or are reselling their products).

Managing Supplier Relationships Effectively

If you have suppliers you'd like to work with more closely, or deal with a lot of suppliers and feel that by managing these relationships all in one place you could create better all-round satisfaction for them, and of course increase internal efficiencies, then the first thing to look at is how you interact with them using technology. Having a dedicated supplier portal that your suppliers can use can make their lives much easier, and also help you manage them more effectively, whilst giving you access to supplier KPIs and purchase order management. If you use SAP, you can consider portal systems that run on your underlying SAP ERP system like Weaveability Supplier Portals, which will help your supplier involvement in your end to end fulfilment process run more smoothly.

Have a Strategy for All Your Relationships

Not all suppliers are equal, so as well as thinking carefully about how you can foster the best possible relationships with your supplier base as a whole, you should also have individual strategies for each company. Making the biggest efforts with the most key suppliers is of course, a sensible choice.

Suppliers, along with any other businesses in the ecosystem your business needs around it to deliver to end users, need to be regarded as people you work in partnership with for mutual benefit, rather than people you shop from. By making their role in your business easy for them to fill using things like custom portals, and by doing even more simple things like catching up with them regularly and paying on time, you can foster beneficial, lasting relationships.

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