For what seems like an eternity I’ve been working with suppliers in the print and promotional industry to source goods, raw materials and finished products. When I started out back in 2006 I was only six months removed from graduating college. I had no experience in vendor negotiations, contract proposals or partnership agreements. Not to say I’m an expert by any means but compared to my former self I’d say I’m pretty capable at this point in my career.
I’ve learned that there are some vendors who are easy as pie – they understand my needs, my industry, and my audience. They are conscious of my budget and make a point to work with me closely so I don’t break the bank. Those are the vendors who I (and most everyone else) love to work with! They make me look good and ensure all my expectations are met. The really good ones will go one step further to make me happy and keep me coming back for more – quicker than advertised turnaround times, delivery method, delivery organization, and the list goes on.
I’ve also had a fair share of what I’ll call difficult vendors. They’re non-responsive, inconsistent and even inconsiderate of my needs as their customer. Simply because we’re working at a business-to-business capacity doesn’t mean my needs shouldn’t be met. I’d venture to guess it starts with a lack of organization or awareness, becoming very clear on my end that there isn’t a whole lot of thought going into the quote, project, delivery, or service. And sometimes, just sometimes, it almost seems like they are trying to make it hard on you. This is a less than ideal situation to say the least.
I’m certain that the rest of the business world has some of my same pain points whether it’s in retail or distributorships. Which brings me to my point; follow the golden rule. If you aren’t familiar with the gold rule then I suggest you brush up on your reading – Dale Carnegie was a human relations and interactions pioneer, as well as the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you don’t have a copy yet, treat yourself; especially if you’re in sales. Now, don’t let the title fool you. The point of the book isn’t to manipulate people into your way of thinking…well, not entirely. It demonstrates a way of thinking, speaking, acting that will make you a leader. I’ve been through part of the Dale Carnegie coursework; it’s fantastic. If you have the means definitely give it a shot.
As the golden rule goes, treat others as you would like to be treated. In business. In life. When I work with suppliers I look for a few good qualities. Timeliness, approachability, product quality, and price. I’ll sacrifice on price if the other three qualities are met. But I won’t commit to a price simply because it’s cheapest. When I send RFQ’s for major projects and a supplier can’t take the time to put together a formal proposal with a quote number and all, it’s a turnoff. No matter your role be sure to do your due diligence. After all, without our customers we’d all be out of jobs.