What relationship do your clients want

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Clients are the lifeblood of any business, and you probably think about the relationship you want with them. But how much time do you spend thinking about the relationship your clients want with you? 

What relationship do clients want to have with us?

The relationship clients want to have with you depends on two factors:

  • How much they need what you have

  • How easy is it to get it from someone else

 Procurement professionals draw these two factors as axes in a Kraljic matrix to determine their purchasing strategy for each supplier.


 How do you know what relationship your client wants?


You can tell what relationship your client wants by how they interact with you:


Strategic – they see you as a true business partner and may include you in crucial business decisions. You will also have relationships at a senior level in the business, and they will be long-term clients you know well.


Leverage – the procurement department is likely to be heavily involved because it’s their job to get the best deal possible. You will likely know the procurement manager, have tendered for the business, and won’t have senior-level contact. Loyalty will only last until the end of the contract.


Bottleneck – You are likely to have a lot of contact with the client at an operational level but not at a senior level. The danger here is that you may confuse these clients with those who see you as Strategic, and they may be long-term. However, they are only loyal because there is nowhere else to go. But they will look for alternatives so this client could disappear suddenly and without warning.


Non-Critical – They bought straight off your website with the minimum of interaction, or a junior employee makes purchases over the phone from your catalogue. This client is not likely to be loyal and will shop around for the best deal going.

Do you need to change or choose your client relationships 

If your client’s relationship with you works for them, they aren’t going to change it quickly. There are, however, ways that businesses have managed to move from Leverage, Bottleneck, and even Non-Critical relationships to Strategic ones.


Leverage relationships can become strategic by building co-created value while delivering the tender. This value can become a critical requirement that the rest of the market cannot meet in the next tendering cycle. 


Also, while influencing the development of a tender may be questionable from a legal perspective, informal advice about specialist areas the client may need to gain expertise in is often sought, including who else to approach. 


Bottleneck relationships can become strategic by co-creating alternatives with the client and becoming a trusted partner in finding them.


Non-critical relationships can become strategic by considering the service and product as a package, e.g., Just in Time delivery, to reduce stock levels. 

How to choose your clients

If your clients don’t have relationships with you that you want, then you must decide whether you will invest in moving them to one you do want. Alternatively, you must only trade with clients who want the relationships that make sense for your business.


You use your CRM data to profile your strategic clients and find others like them. 


How can you get this information from your CRM data?

If you want more information on using CRM Data and analysis, please complete this form.