Why talking to suppliers is still the best way forward

Phil Machin
1 September 2014

2 September 2014 | Phil Machin

Phil Machin is managing director at Bridge ProcurementI am sure readers are well aware of how the world seems to have shunned the telephone in favour of email, text and social media.

I appreciate there is an abundance of information surrounding the benefits of verbal versus written communication. But as buyers, do we truly appreciate the power and influence we convey through the spoken word rather than by texting?

Earlier this month I emailed a French company offering an opportunity to tender for some business. I received no out-of-office, and after a week still had no response to my email. I followed up with another email, mindful most of France is on holiday. No response.

Aware the company I was trying to contact ideally needed to participate in my tender, I resorted to picking up the telephone and brought my pigeon French back to life. I quickly reverted back to English and started to navigate my now captivated company through the opportunity. The barriers slowly started came down and a rapport grew. By the end of a two minute conversation the company was on board, ready and eager to participate and win the tender.

I can think of many other similar examples, both domestically and internationally, where verbal interaction has quickly lifted any challenge, barrier, or obstacle, helping to pave the way to a more successful engagement - and for the buyer, a more effective negotiation.

This is obvious I am sure, but the reality is many of us rely on email to deal with tricky problems that we put on the back burner. Tackling them head on by telephone, or even better face-to-face, is a sure way to quickly defuse any scenario.

With the popularity of FaceTime, Skype and video conferencing on the rise, we couldn’t be any more prepared to communicate effectively with our sponsors, stakeholders, and suppliers across the globe rather than emailing.

So remember, email should be to follow up - not for problem solving or negotiation. You are guaranteed to resolve any issue faster and more effectively without it.

☛ Phil Machin is director at Bridge Procurement

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