The buyer-supplier relationship can be pretty complex. Though everyone has the same goal – to make their mark on a project – ask any industry supplier and they will tell you making deals isn’t that easy. And buyers have their issues to contend too. They’re overworked and constantly on the move which makes it hard to pin them down for deals on their next upcoming project.
But don’t despair people. We understand the trick here is forming a successful relationship that helps buyers and suppliers cut through the clutter to find ways to communicate with each other in a way that is best for both sides of the negotiating table. So we have some great advice for you when not attending one of our amazing BITAC events.
For those not in the know, BITAC is the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event. Taking place at the Hotel Del Coronado last week, the 44th BITAC event attracted the ultimate group of insiders and decision makers representing leading and forward thinking companies. And they all came together at BITAC to problem solve, network, sign deals and exchange ideas to move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests, while adding profits to the bottom line. There’s even time to cut loose, be social and network in a luxurious and relaxed environment. The next can’t miss BITAC will be December 8-10 and focus on upper echelon Owners who will come together at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL.
But of all events must come to an end and that’s when buyers and suppliers need to nurture those relationships formed during a BITAC event.
At this year’s BITAC P&D West, our attendees made it clear that the pathway to a successful buyer-supplier relationship is one that has no set formula, but changes from person to person. People want to be communicated with in many different ways. But it is not just the method in which you communicate such as phone or email, but how the message is being delivered.
Alan Wagener, Director of Purchasing with Best Western International, said suppliers do a good job, but there is always a better way for suppliers to make an impression.
“I am continually impressed in the quality of supplier’s knowledge. It is hard to tell what buyers need and we are usually busy. I think [suppliers] need to be specific on what they are trying to accomplish and should always be prepared with a few opening lines and have something to follow up with,” said Wagener.
Jim Guenthner, Director of Purchasing for the BITAC host property Hotel Del Coronado, said suppliers are not always prepared with the right solutions when making a sales appeal. “Suppliers need to buyer’s needs before providing a solution. They can forge the relationship by presenting ‘needs’ products. A buyer does not want to waste time going through pages of products that they don’t need,” said Guenthner noting that it’s waste of everyone’s time when a supplier is not properly prepared.
Plus, in our opinion a supplier that doesn’t do their homework or ask the right questions will always be at a disadvantage compared to suppliers that spend the extra time doing proper research. I have a similar situation when it comes to my job as editor when public relations “professionals” do not research the focus of Hotel Interactive. Why would I want to work with someone that doesn’t show interest in what my career focus is all about? There are plenty of folks I can work with and so many great stories to be told it is easy to ignore the foolish. OK, I am stepping off the soapbox now.
“Buyers want to know full story, they are more educated,” said Manoli Sargetakis, Principal of Silver State, a company specializing in textiles. “The world is full of beautiful products which makes it hard to stand out to buyers so we ask the buyers what works for them when researching. Plus you need to have a lot face-to-face contact and more personalized emails.”
“It is so important to try to learn about your client prior to presentation of products. You have to go online and do research,” said Myrna Ulerio, A&D Liaison/Business Development with Lefroy Brooks USA.
That sort of attitude makes perfect sense. And to do otherwise means missing sales opportunities.
Here is another great tip from, Steve ‘Spice’ Spicer, Senor Executive, Hospitality Division N.A., Procter & Gamble. “A supplier has to have balance between leveraging technology, using body language and frequent/respectful communication. I also have found that LinkedIn is becoming a great tool for communication. You also have to be a fans of branding and look for opportunities and situations that come up and look toward their branding for solutions you can fill,” said Spicer.