The relationship between buyers and providers can be a tricky one, especially when operating across multiple continents. Speaking during a podcast interview with Dawn Tiura, Sean Delaney, Vice President of Sales for cloud platform Determine, draws on his experience as both a buyer and provider to share best practices for relationships that are sustainable and strategic.
WORK ON YOUR SOFT SKILLS
Technical expertise is valuable, but your ability to establish a rapport with customers is important for sustainable relationships. “Candor is important because there's a large degree of personal credibility that buyers are putting on the line when selecting a vendor," says Delaney. "That needs to be understood as a seller and we need to make sure that we don't break that trust. That's our role.”
UNDERSTAND THAT THE BUYER HAS EVOLVED
Buyers aren't necessarily looking for one big fix. Listen to your customer to understand what they want instead of projecting onto the customer. “I think people are smart enough in the buying process now and they are making decisions based on getting best-in-class by applications. And they're quite happy to have different applications. That's the challenge for us as providers.”
TAKE A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Know what triggers buying habits on different continents as it relates to risk management, process management and savings. “Managing risk is really important in the U.S. and hard-dollar savings in the U.K. is a big deal," says Delaney. "Then process and risk become a big deal because the cost of labor in places like Sweden and some Nordic countries is higher, France is as well, so process management becomes a big deal. So, things are quite complex, but they still need to be able to solve business problems. It's risk in the U.S., it's process in France and southern Europe, it's risk and savings in the U.K., and it's risk and process in places like the Nordics.”
EMBRACE SUPPLY PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
“I think people recognize [supply performance management] is needed but not embracing or seeing the value just yet. In that area, it's really important to align the goals of the supplier with the business. I don't see a lot of that at the moment, so what we end up doing inside any organization when you reward people for the wrong behavior or behavior contrary to the corporate goals...you're not going to gel the team together.”
LEARN TO MANAGE FROM A RISK PERSPECTIVE
If you're not managing from a risk perspective, you could be losing out on opportunities to collaborate and innovate. “Improving supply performance management will actually impact the bottom line and also protect us from risks in the supply chain as well."
DON'T IGNORE THE IMPACT THAT AI AND MACHINE LEARNING WILL HAVE ON PROCUREMENT
“I see supply chains being impacted by self-driving vehicles," Delaney predicts. "Some of the things Amazon is doing on drone deliveries is going to completely turn logistics upside down. All these things will have an impact on procurement in different ways.”
To listen to the full podcast with Sean Delaney, or to access additional podcasts, you can subscribe on iTunes or through your favorite podcast app in the Google Play Store, or listen on the Art of Procurement website.
Stacy Mendoza is a Digital Marketing Specialist with Sourcing Industry Group (SIG). Stacy began her career in market research as an editor for Hart Research Associates in Washington, D.C. Since moving back to Florida in 2014, she has worked in marketing and public relations, specializing in content creation, media relations and crisis communications. Stacy is a passionate volunteer who donates her time to help nonprofits develop marketing strategies and awareness campaigns. Since joining SIG, Stacy has taken a strong interest in advocating for more transparent supply chains to expose the exploitation of workers and the environment. Stacy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Follow her on Twitter and tweet at @SIG_Stacy.