Boosting Supplier Engagement with Marketing 101

When considering optimal supplier engagement, don’t look past the principles of Marketing 101: position yourself as the irresistible option, as HICX explains

As a procurement expert, your work with the marketing team is likely limited. But have you considered the parallels there are between the two departments?  

According to Philip Kotler, widely known as the “Father of Modern Marketing”, marketing is defined as, “the process by which companies engage customers, build strong customer relationships and create customer value in order to capture value from customers in return.”

Read that again but replace ‘customers’ with ‘suppliers.’ It sounds like a wide-reaching extension of supplier relationship management, right?

In this era of global instability, it’s critical to position your organisation as the customer-of-choice so you can ensure you get the best deals, the best flexibility, and the best working relationship built on mutual trust. This means having solid supplier relationship and supplier experience management practices in place – and there’s a lot procurement teams can learn from marketing when it comes to ensuring supplier engagement, building relationships and creating value for suppliers.

Segment suppliers based on their unique needs

Marketing is all about delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right person to achieve a specific desired outcome. It involves segmenting audiences at a granular level and then tailoring experiences to that audience.

The same goes for supplier relationship management. Similar to how marketers segment out audiences and target them with messages tailored specifically to fit their interests, think about how you can segment suppliers into defined groups and customise your approach to fit each supplier’s unique needs. This could be as simple as adjusting your onboarding form to only ask questions relevant to that supplier, providing invoice payment status visibility, or even simply adding a phone number for supplier inquiries to your correspondence. Procurement technology can help by enabling suppliers to access their information in their chosen language, to see their preferred currency, see the compliance and risk information relevant only to them, or to access important transactional information automatically.

Technology, in addition to intelligent self-service where suppliers can express their own preferences, enables organisations to deliver a supplier experience tailored just to them, which removes any unnecessary friction and boosts supplier engagement and trust overall.

Put yourself in the suppliers’ shoes

Just like marketers try to do with customers, put yourself in the suppliers’ shoes. Practice empathy and aim to truly understand the suppliers’ needs, wants and desires. Think about if you were a core supplier versus a tail-supplier – how would that impact your interaction with the organisation? How easy would it be for you to access payment status, change bank account information or discuss any issues with the organisation?

In addition, solicit feedback directly from suppliers. Some of the responses may surprise you, but having that level of insight is critical to improving the supplier experience.

There is a huge opportunity for procurement professionals to do more in the way they engage with suppliers. Using technology to leverage key marketing tactics such as segmentation will be crucial to unlocking the efficiencies and the automation required to service the new demands of suppliers today – and successfully collect and analyse the data that follows.

Interested in learning more about how you can leverage marketing principles to improve your relationships and ultimately ensure supply?

Procurious has partnered with HICX to bring you a compelling new webcast: Supplier Marketing 101: What Procurement can Learn from Marketing.  Watch Procurious Founder Tania Seary, HICX’s Chief Marketing Officer Anthony Payne, and TrinityP3’s Managing Director Nathan Hodges, in this on-demand recording, as they discuss why supplier marketing must become a pillar of your supplier experience management strategy. 

Watch now.

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Abby Dalton profile photo
Apr 19 2023, 10:56 AM
6 min read
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