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Supplier Actions that Lose Business

supplier problemsAs this is becoming the "age of the customer" with recurring revenue models and subscription-based products and services transform the global economy, I wanted to start a discussion from a customer perspective of actions that suppliers take that have caused thenm to lose (or fail to earn) your business.

Here are five of mine:

  1. Not owning up to mistakes. If there is an issue, notify pro-actively, tell me what went wrong ( do not sugar coat it), and tell me how we are going to work together to fix it
  2. Asking for my business before there has been any time or effort put into understanding my employer and our specific needs, i.e., being treated like a transaction out of the gate.
  3. A supplier who is unprepared or late for any meeting or conference call. I should feel like any company's most important customer.
  4. Going over my head to my boss when you do not like my answers and concerns whether or not  I control the spend relative to your company's products our services.
  5. Not treating my staff with the same respect you treat me.

Please share your supplier "pet peeves". I would love to compile a Top 20 list.


Lawrence Stirtz
Title: CPA
Company: Lestirtz llc
(CPA, Lestirtz llc) |

An excellent book that in general covers the same subject was just published. "We are the buyer, you are the seller, you are busted."

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

A supplier who is unprepared or unwilling to put all their promises (commitments) in writing.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

A supplier where the salesperson that was the initial contact and writer of the contract can't be found during implementation of the product.

Company: LINN

A supplier that overpromises and underdelivers

Ern Miller
Title: Co-CEO
Company: Miller Small Business Solutions
(Co-CEO, Miller Small Business Solutions) |

The supplier who blames a language barrier.

I sent out specifications on a video card for 50 computers we were building. One supplier came in just slightly lower than the competition. They had a direct channel to the manufacturer back in Taiwan, so it made sense they could be a little cheaper.

What they sent, though, was the right video card, with less memory. The price they quoted, while inexpensive for the RIGHT video card was within reason, but the same price for the card with the less memory was highly overpriced.

When I contacted the supplier, they said it was a miscommunication between me and the salesperson from their company.

I quickly got the right card from another supplier, stressing the specifications to make sure there was no communication issues. We got the right ones installed in time.

The wrong card issue took several weeks to resolve. During that time, they worked diligently to establish themselves as a supplier for motherboards, etc. for my company.

During the resolution time, a video card came out that made the misordered ones almost worthless. The supplier refused to take them back. Because they had become a beloved supplier, my boss made me eat it by taking the cost of the wrong cards out of the profit of my 50 PC sale. I made almost nothing on the sale, and since I was not charged directly for the cards, my company felt justified in keeping the cards and putting them in the baseline PC...of course, on the cost line, the full price of the video card was listed.

All because a salesperson claimed a language barrier issue, Funny how after six months, that same salesperson was assigned to us as our rep.


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