A dedicated one-day workshop for the sales team enabled them to understand their relational environment and apply insights from the Relational Proximity® Framework. Bespoke exercises enabled them to analyse and reflect on their supply chain relationships. As a result, the team started prioritising different relationships.
Our client’s European customers were increasingly demanding more information regarding supply chain sustainability and ethics. However, it was hard work to extract such information from some suppliers in less developed countries and relationship managers were finding these added requirements difficult to fulfil across their portfolio of clients/suppliers.
Their existing supply strategy had been to purchase from a wide variety of suppliers, in their words a ‘scatter-gun approach’. Analysing a specific relationship between our client and a long-standing African supplier, using the Relational Proximity Framework™, enabled the team to diagnose its strengths and weaknesses. The supplier was reluctant to give much information about their supply chain and none about their own business; there was a sense of distrust based on the hidden belief that our client was making excessive profits. We explored ways to build trust, break down the relational barriers and then decide, depending on the supplier’s reaction, whether this was a relationship worth investing in to build a partnership for the future.
The possibility of being able define the foundations for partnerships led to a strategic discussion around growth opportunities through focusing on a smaller number of suppliers. The aim would be to increase volume and price stability by closer understanding and co-operation. The additional benefit being increased information about origin for European customers.
The RPF gave a framework and language to:
- assess the quality of the current relationships,
- define what Relational strength would look like
enable the team to go away and develop strategic relationships themselves