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Using CRM to Manage your Supplier Agreements

How much do you pay per lead from your data provider? When does the contract with your email marketing platform expire? What’s the notice period on your designer’s agreement? Has someone paid the venue where you’re holding your next customer event or is it still outstanding? What’s the number for you collateral printers?

As a marketer you have a host of supplier relationships – data providers, email marketing platforms, lead nurturing agencies, event venues, designers, printers, and so on – and there is potentially a lot of information to remember about contracts, key people, start dates, end dates, terms and conditions, costs and activity logs. How do you keep track of it all?

Probably like most marketers you try to remember it, or you have a document where you record it all. It works to a certain point, but with so much information to remember it can be easy for something to get forgotten. And that can cause problems. Contract renewals can be missed, notice periods slip by, non-disclosure agreements lapse, and so on. To tackle this mounting complexity of business-critical information a growing number of marketers are turning to their CRM platforms.

Supplier Agreements

Broadly your CRM platform could help with two aspects of supplier management. Firstly it could help you manage your agreements with those suppliers. Most visibly it will put them all in one location that is accessible from anywhere you can get online – no more searching through piles of paper on your desk for that contract you signed eight months ago.

Yet, it helps manage those agreements in other ways. It allows you to record the start and end dates of those agreements so you are always aware of any impending deadlines for renewals or notice for cancellations. It also gives you a convenient place to store any key documents like terms and conditions so you can quickly and easily access them.

A CRM platform will also allow you to track all emails sent and received, record everything that is done and store important conversations. Over time this becomes a vital record of the relationship and allows you to measure activity and results against targets and initial expectations. Finally, you will have a location for contact details so you will never be hunting for that phone number again.

Purchase Order Management

The second area where a CRM platform can help you manage supplier relationships is on the finance side. You can also raise purchase orders and track spend on goods or services, identify the current status of purchase orders to see at a glance whether they have been approved, paid and delivered.

This links to workflow management: you can manage sign-off and any approval processes easily in your CRM. Equally, getting a view of upcoming invoices and renewals helps you to manage budgets and cashflow more precisely – no more nasty surprises that take spending out of the budget.

You can also attach purchase orders to the agreement with the supplier so all documentation is kept in one place and everyone involved is entirely clear about what is being bought and how much it costs. Finally, you should be able to connect your accounts software to your CRM so it all flows together seamlessly.

Befriend the CFO

Marketers are under ever greater pressure to control spending, deliver return on investment, and report financials to the CFO. Broadly marketers who can do that progress more rapidly in their careers and are assigned larger budgets than those who cannot.

The right CRM platform, used in the right way, gives marketers control of their marketing expenditure, and helps them align with their CFOs. Not only does it enable up-to-the-minute, granular reporting on expenditure but it also helps marketers demonstrate return on investment.

The end result is a solid foundation for negotiations with the board and the management team so that the marketing function can secure increased investment in marketing, and deliver even greater results for the business.