Good relationships are good for business. Building a relationship with a vendor takes time. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to work with the same rep for many years. They become friends, share stories and have a routine. That’s all good, right? Turns out the answer may be “not so much”.
Would a vendor take advantage of a friendly relationship? Probably not, but when was the last time you actually reviewed a vendor’s performance? Is your vendor still bringing good value? Are you challenging the status quo?
Maybe it’s time for some hard questions:
Does your procurement organization have a formal communication plan with strategic vendors?
Are performance measures being shared regularly?
Are you asking your vendors what you can do to help them serve you better?
Since many of us spend a third of our lives at work, I’m all for keeping work as pleasant as possible. But don’t let a fear of asking hard questions hamper your organization’s journey towards greatness.
As Jim Collins, the author of the hugely successfully book entitled Good to Great, says, “The transformation to greatness does not happen overnight.” Mr. Collins further states that most people embrace change in small doses provided they see real results from their efforts.
To change a vendor relationship from good to great, start a meaningful discussion with your vendor using real data. Decide on the measures that matter most to your organization. Set one or two short term goals. Keep the discussion alive by meeting regularly.
Before too long, both organizations will experience a transformation towards greatness; a transformation that will evolve as market conditions change. And yeah, there will still always be room for pleasantries along the way.