As CFO, you know your relationships with important trading partners can have a huge impact on your business’s success.
But getting your vendors and customers to view you as a trusted ally rather than just another business takes considerable time and effort. And CFOs can’t do it alone. You need your finance staffers, especially A/P and A/R, to understand this crucial part of their job. Arguably, it’s even more crucial right now, given the difficult times many businesses are facing due to the coronavirus and its economic impacts.
Bottom line: All great relationships take work, and your relationship with each key trading partner is no different. The little extra efforts staffers put in here and there can go a long way to make business relationships more mutually beneficial in the long run.
Check out some easy yet effective ways your finance team can show trading partners you care and create great partnerships:
1. Respond thoroughly
Vendors and customers want to feel like your company values them. So, if staffers regularly rush them off the phone or write replies that are barely a sentence, trading partners may start to feel slighted or frustrated. Instead of focusing on speed, encourage your team to focus on thoroughness. Taking a few extra minutes to talk someone through a payment issue or write a more thought-out email goes a long way.
2. Leverage the human element
It might seem pretty simple, but using a vendor’s or customer’s name when you address them is key to building an authentic relationship with individual reps and companies overall. Not only does it add a human element, but it’ll show you don’t just group all trading partners together. You know them personally and hold them in high regard.
3. Be transparent
You want to be open, so trading partners are reassured that your company is able to make payments and customers know you’re reliable and resilient. Of course, Finance doesn’t have to share everything, but it could help to provide some key figures of your success and good standing (e.g., financial growth, history of timely payments).
4. Recognize mistakes
Remind your team that they shouldn’t try to sugarcoat it when things go awry. Even if some of the fault was shared, they should make reparations on your company’s part. And if necessary, have your staff find time to talk with the trading partner on how they can better work with them in the future. Communication is key.
5. Show your dedication
Push your team to keep up positive interactions in the long haul. Don’t let them fizzle out! From a more personal standpoint, your company can surprise top trading partners by remembering their business’s anniversary. They could mail a card or send a treat around the holidays. And from an operational standpoint, check in with their reps frequently to get their honest feedback on your business and processes – and act on criticisms. Doing both will show you value them personally and professionally.