10 Questions for Transforming Business Relationships

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Stock Keeper
Re: Business Relationships
Tvotapka   6/16/2011 4:38:34 PM

Todd's article raises great points. One thing we've tried to get in with clients is the concept of "exchange in abundance." It basically means delivering more than what's expected, which many suppliers strive to do w/ their customers. However, take note of the word "exchange." It's a two-way flow. So if you're providing outstanding value that's beyond "spec" that's fine, but you also have the right to expect something back beyond the purchase order or payment.

Clients will often balk at this (to use a baseball metaphor) and throw me some resistance. "We already have a pricing structure with these accounts," they often say. "We can't simply notch up our pricing."

No. probably not, yet the concept isn't about cash alone. Exchange can come back in the form of referrals, success studies, testimonials, opportunities to present to other divisions if the company is of a certain size.

When you get this type of ethics in, the relationship with the customer improves even more. People by nature do not like to be "out exchange," at least not the ones worth doing business with!

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Supply Network Guru
You Can't Always Hit a Home Run
DennisQ   6/16/2011 3:43:02 PM

This is a good article, Todd... sometimes I do wish something like a "Customer Evaluation Survey" actually existed!

I think I know what our sweet spot is... and I think our better customers are aware that they're good customers as well. Really, it's usually fairly obvious if you're in a good supplier/customer relationship I think: both parties benefit, there is little conflict, everything runs smoothly and performs well, etc.

While it would be nice if there was some proven method of always hitting the sweet spot with your customers, I don't believe that to be realistic. Plus, the experience wildly varies, sometimes we have customers come in that turn out to be a great match from day one, other times we have to work with an organization for literally years before we find that sweet spot. And sometimes we just never connect.

To expand on the sports analogy you opened the article with, you can't always hope to hit the sweet spot: you're going to foul off some pitches, hit a few pop-ups, maybe even fly out. Like baseball, I think if you feel like you're in the sweet spot with 33% or more of your customers, you're doing well.

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Supply Network Guru
Re: 10 questions
Ariella   6/16/2011 11:30:42 AM

They're all important questions to consider, though I think much turns on the fifth one. If the customer is one who would come in for the long term and not just as a one time deal, then one has to consider if his/her needs can be met down the road. Also a loyal customer, certainly, offers a much better return on the investment of acquiring a customer than one who shops anew each time without considering past experience. But loyalty cannot be taken for granted, and businesses have to keep earning the right to keep their customers with competitive pricing and good service.

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TIOLUWA   6/16/2011 8:44:58 AM

A very interesting article in deed.

I"m wondering though, how easy is it to find real good customers, how about the possibility of building good long lasting customers out of those that are only concerned about the services or products the receive, and not about the company in particular.

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Supply Network Guru
trust and confidence to build supply chain
Jacob   6/16/2011 5:07:41 AM
1 saves

Todd you are right, the 6 points you mentioned (Understanding customer needs,…….., Communicates effectively) are very valid and if we are analyzing nobody is contribution more than 70-80% of the customer expectations. Because, it’s purely a business, they wants’ business with profit and better ROI, nothing more than that (no commitments or poor after sale supports). That’s one of the reasons of failure in building relations in supply chain. Trust and confidence are major factors in build up supply chain and inter personal relations.

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