Suppliers or Partners?
When visiting client companies I’m often astounded by the variation I find in how they view and treat their vendors.
Too many B-to-B catalogers take the attitude of “beating their vendors up” for another 2 percent discount or another free service in the coming year. Vendor interactions are dominated by discussions around “cost reduction” rather than “value enhancement.”
Understandably, I find in those companies vendor relationships are strained. Honest, straightforward communication between the vendor and the cataloger is limited. Not surprisingly in that environment, vendors are less than cooperative when the inevitable supply chain problems arise. Overall, an adversarial relationship exists, rather than a productive one.
That’s not to say all B-to-B catalogers are this way. Many I visit are “enlightened” companies whose principals realize relationships with their vendors are key partnerships that create value beyond just price. They’re relationships that are cultivated, valued and nourished.
These companies and their vendors participate in a value-enhancing dialogue that focuses on changing market information, developing new product, improving combined efficiency, solving supply chain problems together, improving the customer value proposition and so forth.
Yes, keeping costs under control is part of the discussion. But it’s far from the only part of the discussion. There’s mutual respect and support; and a valuable, trusting relationship exists that’ll see them through any challenging times.
These companies are more likely to have vendor goals that include providing market/competitive information, bringing forth new product ideas and recommending cost-saving process improvements. Ah … how smart is that?
So I ask you — or better yet, ask you to ask yourself — which kind of company are you? What kind of relationship do you have with your vendors? How do you really get the most out of your vendors?
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence Inc., a strategic consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at www.b2bdmi.com or (954) 566-4451.