Motivating External Suppliers Oct. 2, 2019, 4:08 p.m.


Organizations have structured ways of ensuring internal suppliers (employees) to stay motivated. They achieve this through salaries, bonus, year-end parties, pension, and team building.

How do you motivate external suppliers? More often than not, we send them a new request for proposal (RFP) to keep the motivation fire burning. Organizations can do much better in improving supplier relations and keeping them motivated.

Here are some ways to achieve this.

Lead By Example

You need to make sure that you are hands on at all times. If you have any knowledge to share with your supplier, do it. If you have advice, suggestions, corrections make sure to pass it along to them. If it is a sensible company, they will listen and might even take your advice.

It can be tempting to expect everything from a supplier: low prices, immediate shipping and on-time communication. But don’t forget that it’s a two-way street, and that if you want an amazing supplier, it’s important to set the example and embody all the characteristics you want to see in them.

Lead by example means that you also have the responsibility to learn from your supplier. Ask questions about production lines, process, etc.

Stay the course

Your supplier’s motivation depends on your own actions. If you will change your requests all the time, for example, related to product specifications this will discourage your supplier. Consistency is the key.

Make sure all your product specifications, packaging and other related things are worked out prior to placing the order, I would even say prior to asking for a quotation.

Be as honest as possible

In a business relationship, there is going to be disagreement. It’s easier to manage these situations when there is an existing relationship based on honesty.

When situations are addressed honestly, solutions are found. Express your desire for honest communication soon in the supplier relationship, and then keep your end of the bargain by always speaking as honestly as you can.

Meet Suppliers in person

It’s an increasingly digital world, we all spend more time emailing, texting and on phone calls than we used to. That makes it all the more memorable if you can take the time to meet your supplier in person.

As well as meeting them in person, try to develop more than a ‘work-only’ relationship with an aim of getting to know each other better. A strong personal relationship with result in a stronger professional relationship.

Understand your suppliers

Working with a supplier will be more effective if you understand them well. Through better understanding, you can work through challenges and develop a stronger relationship.

Communication is everything

Like most relationships, communication is vital.

Communication will create transparency on both sides of the channel and prevent hiccups or missteps, like incorrect inventory count or missing purchase orders.

To develop communication, there needs to be established channels and a structure that facilitates effective communication.

In conclusion

Make relationship with your suppliers a human one, not a digital one.

A great supplier relationship has a lot of benefits, and taking the time to get to know your suppliers will make everyone’s lives a little more enjoyable.

A strong relationship will help you to navigate disagreements and problems. It will also make it easier to negotiate, and as you become their favourite client, you can strike a stronger deal.

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