Navigating the supplier diversity contract process can be discouraging at times. After meeting a supplier diversity officer and having a great initial conversation, the follow up and closing sales cycle can end with little to no commitment. While this is a normal result for sales in general, it can be more frustrating when dealing with officers who are hired to be expert advocates on your behalf.
Despite the frustration, I can easily admit that most supplier diversity professionals mean well. Sometimes, however, I simple “No” at the beginning would save many suppliers time, and effort over the next 3 to 6 months. Mary Olushoga, founder of awpnetwork.com, a platform powering small business success for African entrepreneurs, and Erick Gaston, founder of Orbtec Consulting Inc. a MBE Certified UX/Interaction design group focused on building digital and mobile platforms give their suggestions on how to navigate the supplier diversity contract process for both suppliers and corporate professionals. While I agree with all their points, I think their suggestions in the Huffington Post article can be summarized in a few words:
- Be Honest: When meeting a supplier, tell them where your corporation is in the process. If you’ve been seeking to create opportunities but you’re not sure if you can deliver, let the supplier know that. He or she may have dealt with the issue before and may be able to give suggestions on how to navigate the hold up.
- Value Proposition: Research is key when meeting a corporation. Ask intelligent questions and understand your value to the corporation. No value generally means no contract.