Solutions focus on overcoming a specific business challenge or obstacle and can be provided by any, or a combination of all, partners and vendors throughout the supply chain. When a company switches from service to solution provision, it’s important to ensure that vendors can maintain the same quality standard for clients. Managing this is one of the main components that ensures the success of your solutions strategy. Improved vendor relations aid organizations in their tasks as they often result in better pricing, efficiency, and support. Here are my top five tips for developing and maintaining solution-focused vendor relations.
- Select better
Develop a defined vendor selection process. Vendors must align with the standard of quality you promise clients, and be able to deliver within the timeframes you need them to. However, for truly great solutions provision, vendors must demonstrate an ability to deal with highly-customized requests and offer a lot of flexibility.
- Clarify your needs
Explain your organization’s goals, motivations, and expectations so vendors will better understand exactly what you need from them. It helps to put these into writing to ensure clarity and avoid any possible misunderstandings. The vendor will then know exactly where your priorities lie, whether it’s speed of delivery, exceptional customer service, or the best quality available. This will empower vendors to make the best decisions on your organization’s behalf. This way they truly become an extension of your team.
- Nurture closer relations
Develop a sound communication system between your organization and vendors. Ensure that they hear things from you first so they are protected against any possible industry rumors or know of any announcements affecting them ahead of time. This level of communication encourages trust building and show you put a high value on loyalty. This will make you more likely to win and sustain their loyalty.
- Get more feedback
Ask your customers for feedback and develop a checklist that will allow you to really examine every step of the process and monitor the performance of each vendor. Seeing as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, this process will allow you to identify and weed out the vendors who are letting you down.
- Show your appreciation
Build the confidence of the vendor by letting them know they are an integral part of your team, and that you value the work they do. A great way to do this is through an annual awards program. Not only will the winners and other shortlisted vendors be grateful for your acknowledgment and the positive publicity, but it will also reinforce the message that they are an integral part of your extended team and central to your success in solution provision.