Is Your Company a Good Supplier?
Senior Consultant, CSSP, Inc.
In your strategic analysis of your customers' buying behavior, have you noticed that most of the time there are three major areas that come into play?
First: Brand. The elements of your brand that impact your customers' buying decisions include:
Quality: Do the products we make and/or the services we provide stack up well against the quality expected by those customers? How closely does your definition of quality agree with that of your customers? Are your products the same every time and in adherence to the standards to which you have selected to make them? Are those standards published and are they generally accepted in your customers' industries? Do you deliver on time and to standard every time, every order?
Service: How do your customers perceive your entire service package, from inquiry through order, delivery, documentation and even final acceptance and payment? Are your people given sufficient authority that your customers are satisfied that they will be well taken care of, and that their contacts have the responsibility and authority to quickly make right anything which might go wrong? When something does go wrong, are your people able to resolve the issues immediately, so that your customers know that their business is important to not only your company, but to each individual in your company?
Relationship: As your people interact with your customers, are they conscious of trying to establish and build up the personal relationships so that your customers not only know where to go for help but trust that their contacts in your company know what they want and need well enough to do the job right the first time. With today's internet buying and communication too many people think that establishing relationships is passé. However, in many companies the human relationship can be of utmost importance for your brand.
Convenience: Is your company easy to do business with? Do emails receive prompt response? Are phones promptly answered? Are inquiries addressed and followed through on quickly? A company that doesn't respond within a reasonable window of time is not convenient to do business with and will soon find themselves losing business to their competitors who are.
The second major area: Reputation.
Many of the attributes above also fall into this category. Your reputation is your perceived value in the real world. How customers see you will determine whether they think the effort of contacting you and buying from you will be worth the result. Simply put, are you worth their effort to have you as a supplier? To make buying from you the best option for those customers you must not only provide what potential customers want to buy, but you need to be known for "low-hassle." If your reputation is good, you should get real opportunities to become the supplier of choice for those companies that need what you can supply.
The third area: Strategy.
Your strategies must include learning what customers really want and matching that with what you can supply. Not only does this mean products and services, but also those "softer" elements of reputation and brand that must be good enough to warrant their making the effort to become your customer. As outlined above, this includes the quality, responsiveness and the relationships that you must establish and sustain in order to be the preferred supplier for your chosen customers.
If you are having difficulties in any of these areas, your strategic planning needs to address each of these elements. For guidance and leadership in your strategy development, please contact us at www.cssp.com.
Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant at the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning. He can be reached at