Tough to be new?

That is what I thought when one of my clients decided to go with a supplier he knew, over a newbie with his aggressive pricing proposal. Not that I was shocked, as my client wanted to ensure the selected supplier was actually going to make some money out of the deal, and not just want the name recognition. Bad move on the keen supplier, maybe?

Good question. If we touch on the relationship part, that becomes subjective: and that is the whole point. Working on a procurement project, or any project really, comes down to the relationship we (are willing to) entertain with the team members, whether they be partners, suppliers or customers.

The same client, although on another project and from another department, negotiating with an existing supplier, insisted on the credibility perception. Yes, an incident had happened in the past quarter, and the supplier (of 8 years) saw that as an opportunity to refresh and build new foundations, hoping that this event was not going to tarnish the whole relationship.

Delicate situation in both cases, as both suppliers intend to engage into and solidify the relationship, and add value to it. How can one make a difference and be recognised as such? That may reside in the way of presenting, the manner one delivers a message: carefully, or not, and how it can come across as arrogant, over-confident or snotty. I realise it goes back to how one relates to people in general. Subtlety goes a long way, and commitment comes with a cost, to all the parties around the negotiation table. Where a therapist could see the closeness of two (or more) souls at a divine moment, the relationship between a supplier and the purchasing team intentionally forgets the romantic part (and that makes it much easier to manage, fortunately), yet it still involves feelings: how do I feel about a pushy supplier, and how much do I put myself in the potential supplier’s shoes?

I know it is business, and emotions have close to no room in dealing with a supplier / customer. Except that we are not robots, and my client’s decision to go with a supplier he knows he can rely on, even if it is not the cheapest solution, proves that relationships matter, and they come to a cost. Showing enthusiasm is fine, yet it likely requires some tact in the delivery of that keenness towards a potential partner.

Selecting a new partner in business involves risk: how can I be sure that my due diligence was sufficient in reassuring me that my choice was the best one? Gauging risks represents a big part of the decision process, and I know it does not prevent from being hurt or disappointed (from a marketing / financial standpoint). There is a fine line, and walking on its edge can be rewarding sometimes. Giving a chance to new comers, smaller ones, may open doors to bigger and better opportunities. Of course, it all depends on how you Feel about it, unless your Myers-Briggs type is more on the Thinking side. What do you say?