Most of the people I work with across the meetings and events industry know that I’m a huge fan of investing the time to develop deeper relationships. For instance, I always encourage suppliers to evolve from a transactional relationship with clients into the role of trusted advisor whenever possible. And while it’s unrealistic to become a trusted advisor for every client, I urge people to put in the extra effort in any instance where it seems the relationship can be elevated and maintained over time, and they’ll certainly reap benefits from that.
On the flip side, when I was a buyer I found that taking the time to develop meaningful connections with some of my key suppliers made them easier to do business with, which meant that my job became more streamlined and less stressful. Here, then, are two easy and effective tactics that can help anyone build a positive rapport with their partners in business.
#1 Conduct Periodic Business Reviews
Planners: You can manage many of your principal suppliers with four reviews per year, and for less-critical suppliers, an annual business review can be enough. A combination of face-to-face and virtual meetings is practical and effective.
Suppliers: If you have key clients who do not ask for periodic reviews, initiate them. Now is the perfect time to schedule an end-of-year review for 2019, or a 2020 kick-off meeting!
Topics to cover in a business review include:
• Data on volume, savings, and customer satisfaction (C-Sat) scores
• KPI and/or SLA metrics
• Business forecast from both sides
• Industry trends
• New supplier capabilities
• A plan of action (POA) for the next business cycle
#2 Proactively Share Information
Planners: Altered business priorities, new products, or process changes that will affect meetings and events can arise at any moment. Keep your suppliers informed of such changes if they happen on your end. Include key suppliers in revised process-development discussions to ask for their ideas and perspectives, because it's likely they have other clients who have had similar objectives. A supplier might be able to offer perspective on best practices and pitfalls to avoid for the success of your new initiative.
Suppliers: Don’t assume your clients know about your new capabilities or portfolio changes, or trends impacting our industry. Offer to give semi-annual updates on industry trends to the client’s meetings team, and suggest that other key stakeholders attend, such as event managers, procurement, and travel managers. This will help to position you as a trusted advisor who is looking out for your client’s best interest.