The secret to any supplier relationship is communication. No surprises and no secrets.
This can be difficult when you have a large supplier base. The "elephant" in the room is always that as a buyer, your seller will always think that any discussion is about squeezing price and or margin.
It's time for a step change and for us a businesses and business leaders to signal a change. Pretty much every fad and fashion in supply chain has been implemented, expect one. Social Media.
I'm not talking selfies with your suppliers, or taking photos of lunches with suppliers. I'm talking about using social strategically within the business.
For a start, everybody in procurement and supply chain needs a personal brand. Why? Because it will attract suppliers from all over the world. You never know who is out there that can offer a higher quality raw material or product or service at a lower price. It will also help with recruitment, retention and it might also help sales get the odd lead.
Everybody also needs to build a network, this will help with all the aspects above. Most people on LinkedIn will have a network of ex colleagues and recruiters. What you need is a network of customers, prospects, suppliers and influencers. This will also raise how the department is seen both internally and externally.
Third, the procurement team needs to have content. Show the world, how great you are at best practice. Highlight your sustainability record, showcase suppliers. You might even share some of the content created by sales and marketing.
You also need to be using social internally. This will enable you as a team to collaborate internally, it will also allow you to collaborate with your suppliers.
Collaboration allows you to foster corporate success and growth, both internally and externally with suppliers. Especially in the turbulent times we can live in supply chains and trade.
Time are a changing in Procurement.
Open and honest communication. Transparency. Mutual support. These are the qualities of a healthy relationship…and the signs of a solid supplier relationship management strategy. In many ways, the steps to ensure a positive supplier relationship are similar to the steps necessary to ensure a strong marriage. Both parties need to make a concentrated effort to maintain trust, transparency and communication. It doesn’t just happen accidentally; it requires deliberate and thoughtful action.