“If you know what women want, you can rule!” – This quote from the hilarious, if somewhat politically incorrect (against men!) film “What Women Want” could so easily apply to the supplier – customer relationship.
Whilst there is a plethora of sound advice available regarding good financial management practices in these difficult times (such as from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply: https://www.cips.org/supply-management/news/2020/march/coronavirus-three-procurement-mistakes-to-avoid/ help and support for suppliers and service providers looking to maintain their customer base and secure their sales pipeline is much thinner on the ground.
Now, more than ever, suppliers and service providers need to be finely attuned to the needs of their customers and develop the agility to change rapidly to address disruption in the marketplace whilst grappling with the profound issues in their own organisations wrought by the current circumstances.
Some of the questions that suppliers need to ask include:
- How do I ensure that my strategy and the strategies of our customers are not heading in opposite directions?
- Service excellence and delivering the services customers want, when they want them, is more important than ever…how do I ensure I’m doing things right and doing the right things?
- A modest increase in my bid/win ratio could have a significant upside on my revenue. How can I secure my pipeline in uncertain times?
- If we are too risk averse in times of disruption, we may end up exposed to more risk not less – how do we ensure we are risk aware not risk averse?
- Strong stakeholder management and communications and the right organisational design have never been more important – how do I know the right governance is in place to assure this?
- In these challenging times I need to retain the customers I already have and secure my pipeline of new business. How do I ensure that I truly understand what customers want and align my services to their needs?
Do we at Peru Consulting have all the answers – no, and it’s probably best to treat anyone who claims to have all the answers in these unprecedented times with a large dose of scepticism. What we do have however is many decades of combined experience working with some of the largest, most well-known organisations in the UK, Ireland and Europe.
What this experience gives us is a unique insight into what really matters to customers…and what doesn’t. We’ve advised blue chip clients through many major procurement exercises, helped customers to mend broken supplier relationships and identified improved ways of working that have helped customers optimise cash outflow, maximise operational efficiency and innovate to drive top-line revenue growth.
Our Peruvians, prior to joining us, have also worked in some of the largest supplier and service provider organisations in the world – for example helping suppliers to identify and root out inadvertent errors in their bid financial modelling which were making their proposals commercially unattractive to customers. Many Peruvians also have a client-side focus and can appreciate the pressures clients are facing in these times and how to relate to their priorities, goals and strategies.
At the end of the day we believe supporting suppliers and service providers to better align their services to meet customers’ needs is a virtuous circle – both suppliers and customers win. Let’s be honest, we are a supplier too and as such need to heed our own advice. Helping organisations thrive is what we do, its hard-wired into our culture…its common sense, business sense and no nonsense.
Leveraging our collective experience, we have started to shape some of our services we believe will best help suppliers to stay aligned to their customers’ needs. The infographic below represents our emerging thinking in this area: