For quite some time I have been trying to figure out the practical differences between supplier and customer relationship orientations in B2B relationships. In other words, the differences between upstream and downstream relationships that a firm must have.
Firms are becoming more and more alert to having good supplier relationships having realized that they need to have great suppliers who are part of the team. But the focus is always downstream to the market. Consider how easy it is to get your CEO to go meet a customer than go meet a supplier….
Why is this so? Because organizations are market facing and without customers who pay the bills you can’t pay your suppliers !
It is for this reason there is much more IT efforts on the front end of the customer face with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA) softwares rather than the slower growing Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) modules in ERP systems. The Supply Management department is generally on top of critical supplier relationships because a supply gap can be catastrophic, career wise for the supply or procurement professional. While the same logic applies to the Marketing department, the CEO lends a helping hand because the specter of competition for good customers seem much more real than good suppliers.