Finding the right business partner – Tips for Logistics Sourcing

Just as in your personal life it is important that you find the right partner that you can share your journey with.

Not saying that you need to spend valentines with them however the partnerships that we make over the course of our business life will ultimately be the difference between realising your dreams or just falling short at the wrong moment.

The challenge just as in life is how to find the “one”, ok maybe we don’t need to be so monogamous in our business life as you may need a couple of “ones” to support in various areas, however, this can even be more challenging.

Finding the “one” in life is a one-time event (maybe an old-fashioned view) so one time is enough. Unfortunately, in the business world finding the “one” needs to be repeated at a regular pace.

The dirty little secret that seems to be hushed in the hallways of power (queue mood-setting music) is that not every company competing for your business is a capable partner. It’s not about size, scope or reach (ahem) but really about the fundamentals of the business.

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics SourcingCommitment

Have they bought into your values, do they actually know what type of a company you are. We have all faced the lazy sales approach where most of the time some person calls and wants to speak to the person doing A role. They then spend so long telling you why their company is the best without really understanding what it is your company does. Unfortunately, in a world of high sales targets, people are forced down thus quantity driven approach (It’s a numbers game)

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics Sourcing Selling themselves

This isn’t what you think, but in a way it is.

Most companies have defined product ranges that they are trying to sell you. Whether it’s insurance, building materials, dive trips or space flights. I make no negative comments about the quality of their products as they are fit for a lot of people, however

  • what about the ones where it doesn’t fit?
  • what is being sold is not technically what you’re asking for?
    • it’s frustrating, or even worse you are sold what you wanted to buy but what is delivered is not what was offered.

We are led to believe that what is being offered is based on what is best for you, but generally, it is not built for you. It is built for the company doing the selling.

So how can we find the “one”, because there are a lot of companies out there and they are not all offering the same products or let’s put it accurately not all are offering the same value?

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics SourcingMake the first move

Just in life trying to create connections takes responsibility from both sides, although we live in a very interconnected world with many different ways to communicate, however, they all require a physical effort, generally “the one” doesn’t knock on your door (apart from on TV) or in the meta world trying to connect.

You need to act, because why do we believe the right commercial partner will just call or email with the right wording. I know that the Procurement professionals out there may object to this however I would challenge them to look at all your partners and really (hand on heart) say that the first contact didn’t come from the other company (it may not be a positive if they are long term partners and nobody remembers the first contact).

My statement is not to take away from all the effort that comes after however could it suggest that maybe you’re starting from a weakened spot.

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics Sourcing Be clear and consistent

A lot of companies struggle with this, a lot of times they are looking to buy without really knowing what they want to buy.

The companies that are looking for a TMS without understanding what they need it to do. There is a growing boom in technology supporting the logistics world which I am a great fan of however it is also a common theme that we want a TMS because it will give us greater visibility and will save money, these are not really what you are buying, these are theoretical benefits realised when what the TMS is required to do, does.

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics SourcingIt’s not about Money

Finding the right partner is not about saving money on a specific transaction today, and although I hate to say that finding the right partner shouldn’t be about money at all.

I know this may sound controversial but the reality most companies choose based on the lowest price is problematic. There is a fundamental difference between the price offered (I am not even going to start on what’s in a price) and the money eventually spent. Choosing a partner should be based on a range of elements however it seems that most get through the door because they offer a cheap price, and then it’s a case of shoehorning the rest into the relationships.

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics SourcingBe prepared for the long road

In the same vein as money, we continually force partners to work for every meal with the expectation that we realise saving at a transactional level. I sometimes find it strange that most companies internally are working off a long-term plan but don’t want to allow their partners to be a part of the planning process.

Just as a pet is not only for Christmas (sorry this was always on TV when I was growing up) we shouldn’t really look at our partners as just for one job or one activity. When we continue to keep them at an arms distance, we don’t get access to what really makes them experts and we definitely can’t build that into delivering our long-term goals

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics SourcingInclude the End

There is a general air of positivity when we find a partner that we believe is the right fit and can help us create and achieve our goals.

We are confident that we have asked the right questions and finalised the right contract terms which seems more legal based than actual nuts and bolts of operational delivery, but we seem to be hesitant in really defining failure.

Personally, I think it’s better to discuss what the end could look like in the beginning, its seems to be an easier discussion rather than at the end when the relationship is strained, stretched and generally operating from a negative place.

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics SourcingAsk for references

So this may be where we move away from my life partner analogy as I would love to see how that conversations goes when on the first date you are asking for the contact details of past partners just to get some feedback. That would be a great show for TV.

Some of the more sophisticated companies may do this however in 25 plus years I don’t think I have ever had someone call me to get some feedback on a potential partner. Just to hold my hand up I also need to say that I haven’t done this will all prospects.

We live in a world of choices with the increasing way that people can communicate eg LinkedIn, YouTube, tik tok (I am not so old) then maybe making the right choice is easier as everything is available at the push of a button.

I think this creates a false reality as the increase in choice is not real, not everyone wanting to sell can deliver the value you need and waiting for the right answer will often provide the wrong solution.

Finding the right business partner - Tips for Logistics SourcingFinding the right partner is rewarding on many levels so a little bit of effort should be worth it.