All too often I hear that suppliers should do what we want because we pay for their goods and services and our brand is valuable. Therefore they should give us better prices, engage with us in endless workshops and meetings, host us in their Silicon Valley offices with their CxOs and Very Clever People. They should provide us with their industry Points of View and White Papers, tailored to our industry, to our business. They should, they should, they should…
Really? Should they?
Why? What makes us so special? We are often one a suppliers of many clients, with many leads and potential opportunities. Just as we have limited cash to spend and people to deliver with so is it the same for our suppliers. They are a business just like us, not a free and never ending resource for us to use as and when we wish, often with unclear and uncertain promises of return. People are still accountable. Real people, with real performance objectives linked to real bonuses that pay for real holidays for their real families. Just like you and I.
So keep it real.
Really think about what is it that the supplier wants from us, outside of cold hard cash and a brand on their website. Often the cold hard cash isn’t actually that much, be it in dollar value or company priority or both (sometimes it is, I totally accept that and in that case, go get what you want!). And don’t overestimate the value of your brand, particularly if your company used to fly high and is now going through hard times. Be aware of not just the competition in your sector but the other sectors your suppliers will court. They can just as easily put their best and brightest to those accounts instead.
So what else is it? What can you give them? Spend the time to really think about it, and whilst you’re at it, reconsider what you want from them. Often your first answer or two isn’t the real one.
Don’t take it at face value.