“Know When to Hold ‘Em… Know When to Fold ‘Em”

those famous words were originally sung over 40 years ago by the late, great Kenny Rogers in 1978.

partnering with potential providers
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"One of the most significant missed opportunities in finding partners is having an open and honest dialog with the provider community during the early stages of the process."

So what does this have to do with business improvement?  This is how most organizations interact with potential providers when looking for an optimal solution.  Hold the cards close to the vest and be very careful what you share.  We often see that after an organization has selected a supplier and both are deep in negotiations that they choose to share the critical details and information that would have been more helpful and useful when originally constructed the partnership.  But, that’s the first mistake in finding the right partner- and a solution that addresses the issue.

One of the most significant missed opportunities in finding partners is having an open and honest dialog with the provider community during the early stages of the process.  Why this is the case, has always been a mystery.  The benefit of having these conversations will often far outweigh any risk or negative outcome. 

Having open and honest dialog means sharing as much about your situation as you can with potential partners.  Invite them to have discussions with you and the decision-making team, allowing time for a question and answer session.  Depending on the complexity of the need, consider including a high-level white-boarding session as well. 

Admittedly, this takes guts.  You may have to share things you thought you would never want anyone outside of your company to know.  But, if you are truly looking to solve a problem – and with the best potential partners, now is not the time to hold back.  What if you openly shared the struggles you are dealing with?  What if you lay out the problem, and then invite the potential providers to offer their recommended solution?  Chances are you will receive a better solution than if you designed it on your own.  If chosen right, the potential partners you select to work with will be the resident experts.  Leverage what they have!

Inevitably, after the process is complete, both the client and the supplier will agree that transparency and open communication ultimately lead to the development of a more impactful solution.

At Alleon Group, we help clients develop relationships that expand the sphere of influence beyond the typical customer/supplier relationship – changing it to a long-term partnership that makes sense for the client’s bottom line. This often starts with leading a transparent and open process with our clients and prospective providers.

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Courtney Allen

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Strategically sourcing a need, particularly a challenging or complex one, can be an intimidating process. Where do you start? When do you use a “strategic sourcing” approach versus “buying?” How do you find the right pool of potential partners and then narrow down to the optimal partner who will solve your need?