Sometimes I feel like a broken record. If you want to know what your customers are thinking, just ask. If you want to know what keeps them up at night or where they’re placing their bets, just ask. If you want to know how you can help them be successful, just ask! And yet, all too often, you don’t.
I recently got into a conversation about this with a procurement manager of a multi-billion dollar international conglomerate who was getting tired of waiting for his suppliers to ask! Instead, he was taking matters into his own hands and reaching out to them. He wanted them to know his organization better and he wanted to give them an opportunity to become more than just a supplier.
In hopes of developing mutual respect and trust, he scheduled two-hour meetings with each key supplier and set the following agenda.
• Share Strategies
• Set Expectations
• Identify How to Work Together
He wanted his key suppliers to understand his organization and the challenges they were facing. He wanted them to know what his organization was building and how they saw the future. He wanted them to know their strategic objectives so they could help his organization achieve them.
He also wanted them to know what he expected of them and what they could expect from him. He shared his philosophy for conducting business, the day-to-day support required, and cost objectives. He wanted his key suppliers to understand his business and his industry better so they could work together to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
So far, there have been mixed results. Those suppliers who embraced what was shared during their two-hour meetings have reaped the benefits. Their working relationships have improved. Mutual trust has been established. They are called upon for their expertise and are asked for advice. As a result, their sales have increased. They have become trusted partners.
So if you want to know what your customers are thinking, just ask. If you want to know what keeps them up at night, where they’re placing their bets, or how you can help them be successful, just ask! They’re waiting to tell you. They WANT you to know!