Gifts are fairly common this time of year. But are you doing anything to recognise and thank your suppliers for their hard work this year?
Let the gift basket parade begin!
It is the holiday season. The cheese trays, cards, fruit towers, yeti coffee cups pour in from suppliers at this time of year. Savvy sales teams and account managers might even take the time to hand write a card thanking you for the business relationship and surprise you with a very thoughtful gift.
Of course, these gifts are then shared, according to the policies and practices of ethical receipt of gifts, around the office, increasing the festive mood for everyone.
As in any great, or even good, relationship, the gifts are exchanged – both ways. Therefore, I am perplexed by the one-way exchange of gifts between suppliers and their customers. Maybe that is because traditionally the gift from the customer was their business?
However, what if we changed that this year and offered the gift of recognition and appreciation to our high performing and high potential suppliers? Just like anyone else, a simple gift of appreciation motivates, builds trust, and breaks down barriers in the relationship.
Here are 5 simple ways to do just that.
1. Write a thank you note
What if each year in October you performed a quick review of suppliers, noting the ones who performed exceptionally well this year? Then, the category teams would acquire some thank you cards and write notes of gratitude to those suppliers.
This simple act would be something that the suppliers would find as extraordinary. And therefore, would be motivated to give their best to you in the new year.
2. Ask them how you could help them and then do it
Great suppliers love to help you. Often sharing expertise, insights into the marketplace, and solutions to complex business problems.
At the same time, suppliers could also benefit from the same from their clients. What if we asked our high performing and high potential suppliers how we can help them? First of all, the supplier will not be accustomed to this.
Once they realise the sincerity of the question and the help is received, there will be a bond formed with that supplier, open lines of honest communication are achieved, and more innovative solutions offered.
3. Pay on time
Seems simple enough, right? (This made me laugh.)
After working on these processes for most of my career within Procurement, this is a constant struggle for most. Then, you layer in some of the cash flow practices around the end of the year that some do, and the late payments escalate.
How impressive would it be if, for your best suppliers, there was a proactive review of the accounts every autumn to ensure the accounts were paid up current by the end of the year. Wow!
Not only would that make the suppliers extremely happy, but it would get Procurement and Accounts Payable resources out of the woods on those accounts for a while heading into the new year.
4. Facilitate an introduction
Suppliers always want to meet people who you know. These people could be within your company, or external within your networks. Facilitating the introduction would be a great way to recognise a job well done.
It shows you trust the supplier to perform well and that you are willing to share the success with others.
5. Give them a social media shout out
Of course, you will have to check on your internal policies on this one, but there is a large trend on social media platforms like LinkedIn to recognise suppliers for outstanding performance.
This trend creates a perfect win-win scenario – often showing off some project that the buy side organisation is implementing, the supplier who helped them achieve success, and how they partnered together to get it done. Sometimes these are large achievements, and sometimes they are small day to day ones like providing outstanding safety to employees.
Suppliers love this type of shout out, as it gives them instant access to your network of contacts and a vote of confidence from you at the same time.
As Procurement organisations are looking to add value well beyond cost, your ability to create trusted, value adding, innovative relationships with your suppliers takes centre stage. Often big changes like the shift Procurement is going through, start with simple steps forward.
So, this holiday season, let’s be grateful to those suppliers who achieved excellence this year by saying thank you.