Knowing your supplier is one of the best tools, weapons, instruments – no matter how you want to call it – to control the situation and always have the benefit in discussions, negotiations, day to day purchasing activity.

“Knowing” the supplier takes a lot of time and work at the beginning. It takes time to dig into the information, to learn all you can about their production capabilities, their partners (basically your competition), their competition; their reputation in the market and the reputation of their sales people and management; logistics and pricing, margin capabilities, service issues, quality issues, the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses, their product’s strengths, the marketing strategy and tactics, their short term and long term objectives, their targets for growth, their cost scheme, etc.

Meaning: know them better than they know themselves.

Having all that information, reviewed permanently to keep it up fresh, will help tremendously to get your business relationship focus on business and problem solving. Become an expert in your supplier. The results will be extraordinary. There will be no opening for them to mess around in negotiation room. Once your supplier knows and sees you cannot be fooled, the games in negotiations are finished and all is left for them to do is to discuss straightforward, serious business.

Getting whole the knowledge will not take an hour or a day; it can take sometimes weeks or months. Gather all the facts and data, learn it, work with it, play with it and confront it regularly. Have it all filed, hard copy or not. Do not assume, just get the pure piece of information. Get the whole puzzle together and understand the whole “picture”.

You rarely can do wrong if you get all this knowledge. And when you have it – use it. You will know at once what to ask without being afraid that you are being ridiculous. You know what your supplier can do and cannot do (yet).

In this related post I “dig” a bit deeper into this matter.

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