In the early stages of any business relationship, there’s a long list of questions between partners commonly referred to as “getting to know you.” From learning the best way to communicate to how invoices are issued and paid, these questions are critical in kicking off the partnership on the right foot. However, many organizations stop asking questions as the relationship grows, which can actually stifle growth and profit. So what’s the right combination of “getting to know you” questions and active engagement? How can businesses grow partnerships and is there such a thing as asking too many supplier performance questions?

Ask Valuable Questions

In a recent #TuesdaysWithBill Big Think video, Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy) asserts, “Hypothetically, you cannot ask too many questions. You cannot investigate too thoroughly.” However, he also asserts that when we ask too many questions regarding an issue or topic, it can be perceived that we aren’t paying attention, thinking for ourselves, or using common sense.

The key to asking supplier performance questions, in whatever quantity they come in, is to ask valuable questions. Your questions should seek to provide unknown or unrealized feedback that can build a greater understanding between your business and your supplier partners.

The bigger problem isn’t asking too many questions, but just the opposite: not asking enough. How can we fix issues if we don’t know something’s wrong?

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Proverb

Ways to Get Started

Earlier this year, getSayDo published a quick SRM Strategy Health Assessment. The purpose of these seven questions was to aid in evaluating supplier-stakeholder alignment that could reveal dynamics that either help or hurt supplier relationships. Seven questions provide a lot of insight. More importantly, they provide actionable and manageable insights.

So before you start Googling the four, five, or six best questions to ask regarding supplier performance, take a step back and consider your current supplier relationships.

  • What do you know about their performance?
  • What is unclear to you?
  • Who can best provide you with missing information?
  • When was the last time you engaged with internal stakeholders regarding this supplier?
  • When was the last time you engaged with the supplier?

Hopefully, these five questions will get your wheels turning and put you on the path of valuable investigation of how to maximize your supplier relationships.