With the holidays upon us, giving is top of mind for everyone. Families, couples, and coworkers are busy figuring out the perfect presents for each other; little kids everywhere are writing letters to Santa, asking for the toys that will make their Christmas dreams come true.
Amidst this heartwarming exchange of gifts and good cheer, I can’t help wondering what business suppliers might be wishing for in 2016. If they wrote their own letters to good old Saint Nick, they might say something like this:
As you know, I’ve been a very good supplier this year. I’ve worked hard to meet my customers’ needs and agreed to use all the connection types and processes they requested to support their business commerce programs. So I hope you’ll bring me the presents listed below. They’ll not only make me really happy, but benefit my customers as well! Here’s what I would like:
1. Easier ways to find customers ready to buy. Santa, please get more of our potential customers to take advantage the great matching capabilities of today’s business commerce services to connect with qualified suppliers. This will save my business a huge amount of time and effort in trying to find valid leads—and help us reach more customers who understand what we offer and want what we sell.
2. A transparent bidding environment. Getting invited to online sourcing events is great, and my team does plenty of homework ahead of time so we can put our best foot forward. But we also need our customers to provide clear, quantitative criteria on RFQs, and even include percentages that rank the weight of each criterion in their decision. That way we know up front whether we’re qualified to bid and can focus on what matters most to the customer. It also gives us a more level playing field, since everyone is working from the same set of assumptions. Plus we’ll feel better knowing the business is being awarded fairly based on measurable requirements, not just personal preference or back room deals.
3. The chance to compete on more than price. Santa, we know our customers have to keep costs as low as possible. But we also know the cheapest supplier isn’t necessarily the best—instead, it’s the one who can deliver the greatest value and really solve the customer’s problems. That’s why we want customers to consider what we bring to the table beyond price, including the ways our expertise, service, and innovation can help boost their efficiency, profits, and position.
4. Visibility into when we’ll get paid. Planning for things like our holiday party and year-end bonuses can be tricky when we’re anxiously awaiting a big customer payment. So we’d love it if more customers would use business commerce solutions that give us real-time updates on invoice and payment status. Besides helping us better manage cash flow, this would free up time we now spend chasing down payments and fixing problems—so we could devote more resources to strategic services that make life easier for our customers.
5. More opportunities to collaborate with customers. Today’s business commerce tools offer so many ways to work together more effectively than manual, one-off interactions; we just need customers to give us access to them so we can make it happen. For example, tools such as collaborative product design, collaborative demand planning or dynamic discounting, can be offer true win-win benefits for both us and our customers.
Really, the sky’s the limit (sorry, Santa, no pun intended) to how far we can go by capitalizing with customers on these business commerce technologies. And if they need encouragement, just remind them that they’ll get as much out of them as we do.
So what do you think—if you’re a business supplier, does your wish list include these items, or something different? And if you’re a buying organization, will you be helping Santa out by delivering some of these gifts to your suppliers this year?
Either way, I hope your holidays are filled with much love, laughter, and joy.