We’ve been partnering with some of our suppliers for more than ten years. In the IT marketplace that’s several lifetimes since margin is usually put well ahead of loyalty. While we know we can buy better elsewhere, we value the consistency of long term relationships and the non financial benefits like faster supply or extended trading terms.

This is on my mind because we have been stalked by a national supplier keen to get some of our hardware business. They have been smart enough to do some comparative pricing and they claim to be able to save between 10% and 15% off our current buy price. The moment they pitched their structure I lost interest. Who wants to deal with an account manager reporting to a state manager reporting to a national channel manager when you can go straight to the top in a smaller supplier company? Not me.

As a small business owner I take comfort from dealing with small businesses where young employees are given a start and where the relationship is respected as if it is the most valuable the company has. I didn’t get a sense of that in the pitch from the national supplier.

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