Deeds and actions speak the loudest!

But what is the next level of equipment-supplier collaboration? Expert advice from Marcus Clifford.

Expert advice from Marcus Clifford
Expert advice on suppliers from Marcus Clifford

Find more expert advice on suppliers and other topics from Marcus here!

Here’s a quick review that might help reframe your thoughts and expectations.

What are you missing out on in a truly good supplier relationship, and what should you ask for? Have you recently reviewed your expectations of a true partner?

Your good customers increasingly want a collaborative approach, and you deliver it. So ensure you get the same and more from your suppliers; the good ones will respond.

Due to the ongoing environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, developing a great supplier relationship is crucial to business survival and success.

I was talking to a well-known print service provider last week who discussed a bizarre experience with a global supplier who did not seem to display partnership and collaboration principles much on its website. It got me thinking about what really characterises a great relationship, its delivery and outcomes. What should the client be asking for? This may be an appropriate time to review this if you are going to wave the dosh and purchase something exciting. Or even just have a renewed conversation about what you would like going forward?

Advice on Suppliers

Suppliers of kit and equipment are looking to the upcoming big events as a catalyst for new orders. Certainly, there are plenty of upgraded technologies on offer, as well as connectivity technologies that offer better, faster, and more effective solutions. Greater collaboration between supplier and customer makes great sense, but is it a structured process and time for a review now that new investment cycles are upon us?

In one McKinsey survey of more than 100 large organisations in multiple sectors, companies that regularly collaborated with suppliers demonstrated higher growth, lower operating costs, and greater profitability than their industry peers.

We are one of the most innovative sectors I know and have fantastic solutions to create amazing communications, but I often find we fail to showcase them effectively to customers. We don’t champion innovation effectively. We don’t ask our suppliers to sufficiently open up their global marketing resources and feed us with great and practical ideas on what others in other geographical regions are doing well.

There is a great opportunity for a PSP to soak up great knowledge and information from suppliers in a formal and structured manner and re-transmit great solutions to customers’ needs. How you communicate is key, and the landscape for doing it effectively has changed, as has the style of selling.

Creating a mindset and culture of innovation is part of the answer, which includes factoring in a regular forum for downloading innovative ideas and outputs from technologies into your team meetings.

I often talk to teams about their desire to review market opportunities but find they do not invite current and potential suppliers on a structured basis or updates on potential investment. Instead, more importantly, they ask them to present ideas, options, innovative applications and deliverables that can be opened up to customers from other similar businesses from around the world.  Ask the head of marketing, not the salesman, to meet with every quarter. Structure it as part of your service level agreement. There are lots of things you can do to develop a platform for growth and more effective client engagement.

Set up an innovation hub on your website and an immersive room in your business to showcase the wonderful world of print and provide complementary areas for your team and customers.

Companies doing better across our sector position themselves as the production agency of ideas, a source of ideas, knowledge, and interesting information. The ones who do this effectively also structure effective ways to communicate their talents, which is the key.

Collaboration and partnerships should have very specific outcomes, be understood by all involved, need management to have ownership, and involve regular reviews covering key points that will grow your business. One thing that has come out of COVID is the need for flexibility in such relationships, and this needs a considerate discussion and some scenario planning. This might be the key difference in your choice of a supplier.

Use your Service Level agreement to factor in the outputs and support you need, starting with a fresh sheet and applying your experience. Better still, involve a wider range of your team and generate ideas on what a great supplier and collaborative relations look like and what outputs they want.

Think like a start-up as an exercise.

Words, deeds, and actions—a structured approach to what collaboration looks like. What tangibles does it produce for you? What do you need to grow your business? What does a long-term orientation and relationship with your supplier look like, and how can they help you manage transitions alongside growth?

There are, of course, great suppliers doing great things for their customers, but discuss, ideate, and enshrine what will turbo charge your business around the familiar word collaboration. What does it really mean for you?

Call the Printboosterologist. Marcus Clifford 0n 0774 381 8806 to discuss ideas for growth and development. As well as advice on suppliers!

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