6 ways to find a partner rather than supplier

As a good event manager, you can make a massive impact on the success of your event.  The relationship between you and your client is a symbiotic one.  You know what your client wants before they even ask, and you plug gaps in advance before they become an issue, giving the appearance of a flawless event. Clients trust in your advice, knowing that it is based on sound experience and that you will deliver.  A good event manager-client relationship can quickly become a friendship that can last many years … and many job changes.

Modern procurement and tender processes, however, don’t allow much scope and access to get to know the client well before an event. The current ‘hands off’ tender process doesn’t give opportunities to really get under the skin of a client - 67% of buyers journeys are now done digitally* leaving little room for people-to-people interactions.  Tenders also take up a lot of time and resources to complete, and if you are not careful, it can become a full-time job.  Likewise, with the increasing pressure on budgets, it can feel a bit like a race to the cheapest option.

So, what should we do to change this trend?  Ultimately, as an event manager, we want to ensure that the quality of our work is not being eroded and that we get the best supplier - not just the one who hung on until the end.

One way to change this is to move the focus away from just price, and on to Value. Here are 6 ways our event managers do this

1. Remove cost as a factor

No matter how big or small the event is, we always put together the most cost-effective solution possible. Now, this doesn’t mean it necessarily fits with the financial expectations of the client, but our costs are not fixed in stone so are more of a conversation starter.  It is vital that you are always open to working with your client to make the event fit their budget.

2. Highlight the benefits of using you as a supplier

Point out your strengths and specific experiences. What’s your USP? One of our USP’s is our in-house integrated agency service model, with all our services under one roof. This provides a creative environment for our clients to work and share ideas in.

3. Do your research

Get online and research the client and subject matter. A thorough knowledge of the subject matter will go a long way to building trust. Being based in the centre of Cardiff, we have our ear pretty close to the ground. This, combined with our extensive business network gives us a good understanding of the local and national environment.  

4. Build relationships and have conversations

Show the value of a good working relationship and valuable conversations both as a supplier and client. We are big enough to handle large projects easily but still small and friendly enough that our clients can talk to us, and get to know everybody in the team.

5. Can you bring added value?

As a creative and strategic hub, we are well suited to add value in other areas that may not be immediately obvious to the client.  Are you able to offer CSR or training? This cross-selling of services can benefit both parties.  

6. Emphasise customer service and teamwork

We are very much our team and our people, so we like our interactions to be with humans! We all like to know who we are working with and who is responsible for delivering the project. By getting the client to meet all the team involved, and also have regular contact with their Account Director (even having their personal mobile number!) builds trust, relationships, and if you’re lucky, friendships. 

It cannot be denied, of course, that price is still very much an important factor. When it comes to finding the correct supplier, early negotiation about prices will make sure all parties are on the same page at the start and lead to less conflict in the future.  However, don’t take it too far.  Recently, we had a protracted 5 ½ month tender negotiation, but by the time it was all done, there were only 10 days left to deliver the actual event.  We would have much preferred to have it the other way round - a 10-day negotiation with a 5 ½ month project lead time! The outcome would have been the same - but the journey would have been so much more enjoyable.

Come and have a chat over a cup of coffee, or give us a ring. We are happy to chat over any ideas and who knows, this may be the start of a beautiful relationship.  

*Source Sirius Decisions 

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