Yesterday, we posted a blog that covered tips when working with Sourcing Managers. Today, we'll discuss tips five and six.
Tip #5: Do build long-term relationships at targeted accounts. Investing the time and effort to develop relationships within a specific company can make the difference between success and failure. “Keep up with the buyers and stakeholders as they change over time, and don’t expect results overnight,” Sherrill advises. For example, one seller interested in supplying uniforms to OSU spent two years getting to know both Sherrill and the end users. “It was a long process but it paid off big time, because they got all the uniform business for the university plus one of our hotels,” she says. “We asked for a ton of samples, and they kept driving down to deliver them. They also talked to our people to see what we needed. They had very good listening skills, and ultimately the comfort level and rapport they built up was a key factor in their getting chosen.”
Tip #6: Don’t assume that being small is a liability. Many sourcing managers are eager to contract with small or disadvantaged sellers, not only to meet legal requirements but for other reasons as well. “Personally I like smaller suppliers as long as they can handle the capacity, because they’re often more flexible and able to jump through hoops easier,” Sherrill says. “Of course it’s still important for them to submit their response in a professional manner, and to show they’ve done analysis and can address the need we’re trying to meet.” You can proactively allay fears the customer might have about your size by offering them a site visit and/or demonstrating how you can do the job. E.g., the small, family-owned seller that landed the uniform contract repeatedly met with Sherrill to explain how they could fulfill the university’s requirements. “They also asked the right questions to make sure they could provide the service, and made suggestions when we asked for things they didn’t think would work,” she says. The company’s small size meant they had lower overhead and prices, which worked to their advantage as well.
In the Next Blog We'll Share the Final Tips
This post is part of the current issue of Ariba Supply Lines. Ariba Supply Lines is a quarterly newsletter that provides valuable tips, best practices, and the latest thinking to take your online business relationships with your buying customers to the next level.
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