Sunday, 2 November 2014

Influencing: Suppliers are people too

Recent blogs have focused on influencing and to be fair most of the examples I've given have implied these techniques are to be used with internal stakeholders. The assumption being you don't want to fall out with these stakeholders, you do need to influence them and therefore here's the things to think about when dealing with them.

One response to one of the blogs this week via twitter said

"wise words - purchasing tends to make us combative in achieving goals,
which doesn't lend itself to internal influencing". 
Which made me realise I'd not emphasised perhaps enough how much I use all of what I'm blogging about with suppliers. In fact I'd say its my point of difference in how I deal with suppliers. That said I don't tend to spend lots of time negotiating the commodity leverage categories. 

Supplier's representatives are people and as such they have preferences for how they process and take in information just like you or I do. So if you're wanting to influence them why wouldn't you want to consider how to do that in the most effective way. Of course a combative approach has its place but that can lead to resistance and that may or may not work for you.

Personally there's very little difference between how I treat suppliers and how I treat internal stakeholders. That said I'm usually developing a strategy along side the internal stakeholder and wanting to impose it on a supplier. So yes my goal may be clearer and less likely to change when dealing with suppliers than when dealing with internal stakeholders. I can however still flex my style to enable suppliers to understand my position more clearly - after all "No!" and "Lower!" don't always provide much information to help suppliers amend their position.

Do you use different influencing styles with suppliers than internal stakeholders? Is that always successful and if not how might you want to flex your approach to see if you can achieve a different outcome? 

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

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