Customer relationship management (CRM) software is, by definition, an electronic solution for the management of client databases. The tools and features available in your CRM solution make it a highly effective system for running suppliers and vendors. With proper management, CRM enables you not only to preserve but also to get better vendor relationships.
How important is the need for vendor management, and how does CRM help? Here are six ways to use your CRM solution to improve vendor relationships:
Many top-rated CRM solutions comprise modules that allow you to coordinate and manage vendors. With them, you can use your CRM software to improve your vendor relationships.
When working to improve vendor relationships take your time and do whatever research is necessary to find the right vendors for your company’s needs. Begin by making a list of potential vendors you feel would work well with your company. Next, request information such as product lists, price quotes, and delivery schedules. Review the information to determine how well each vendor fits within your business plan in both the short term and the long term.
Be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Having too many vendors can “dilute” the connections and relationships with all of them. In addition, trying to keep up with a large pool of vendors can be overwhelming and lead to inefficiencies, higher costs, or even errors that could slow production or decrease profits. Your CRM solution can help you determine which vendors you can eliminate by comparing costs, evaluating vendor performance, and exposing issues with delivery or communication.
It’s important to monitor a vendor’s performance not only at the beginning of the relationship but also as it progresses to ensure that the vendor continues to meet the standard of service your company needs. Your CRM software can help you track response times, deliveries, communications, and billing to ensure efficiency and accuracy. By regularly monitoring and reviewing how well each vendor works with your business plan, you can address any issues and quickly make any needed adjustments to prevent delays or losses.
Keep in mind that your vendor is also a company and probably has the same goals as your organization: to grow the business, satisfy its customers, and make a profit. One way to improve your relationship with your vendors is to be a good customer. Pay your bills on time, keep the lines of communication open, and maintain realistic expectations. Using your CRM solution, you can track production dates for all your projects, giving your vendors plenty of lead time for delivery. In addition, you can ensure that all payments and communications occur in a timely and efficient manner.
When you go to a restaurant, you’re not served by one waiter; your bank has various tellers with whom you interact. Businesses aren’t run by one or two people: It’s a team sport. This is true when it comes to your vendors, as well. It’s important to establish and maintain several connections within each company and to spread these connections within the company’s resources. With these connections established, your CRM solution can help you organize them within the vendor’s information. Adding names, titles, contact numbers, or even personal data (e.g., spouse’s name, birthdates) can help you add a personal touch to each communication and strengthen the relationship.
Most CRM systems can accommodate vendor management with ease. When issues arise, it’s typical because the company isn’t using the software’s tools and features effectively. By reevaluating your current CRM system, your company can work easily and efficiently toward better vendor management and stronger vendor relationships.