Picking a Supplier Enablement Partner
Approaching the onboarding of suppliers to electronic payments can be paradoxical. Your AP Team is busy enough, which is one of the reasons you’re looking to expedite your supplier payments in the first place. You therefore can’t task them with carrying out a comprehensive digital payment conversion campaign with your suppliers. Enter your payments provider, who can step in to help with this feat of convincing your complex supplier ecosystem it’s beneficial to embrace these new forms of payment. But, can you entrust something so vital to someone other than your team?
You can reconcile this quagmire by choosing the right payments provider. They’ll approach supplier enablement as a well-worth it project unto itself, as opposed to merely a vehicle for profit. And they’ll grasp the key role you play in the transition.
The ideal payments provider will honor the supplier relationships you’ve worked so hard to build and will be prepared to develop messaging tailored to your specific goals. They’ll recognize the need to treat each vendor relationship as its own entity, taking into account each individual vendor’s questions, fears, needs, and capabilities. If certain suppliers merit phone calls versus emails, while others seem to demand more regular touches and follow ups, this should be handled dexterously and eagerly. You should get the sense that the trusted partnerships you’ve built with your suppliers will be in good hands, with open lines of communication, a receptiveness to feedback, patience, and flexibility being the norms during the enablement process.
Because of their expertise in this arena, the payments provider should also be familiar with the specifics of what the supplier will encounter once they’ve agreed to adopt e-pay. They should know how the fee structure works and impacts suppliers, how the supplier might be able to obtain more favorable merchant fees, how long funding will take once electronic payments are processed, how their accounts receivable process will change, etc. If handled correctly, suppliers will get the sense that you’re on this journey together.
You’ll know a payments provider appreciates the overall value of an enabled supplier if they include the long-tail (or, smaller suppliers with a smaller concentration of spend) in their onboarding plan. Many vendors will contact a mere 20% of your suppliers, as this population often represents 80% of your spend. What this fails to address, of course, is the rest of your business transactions, which will remain just as time-consuming, error-prone, and costly. While all suppliers may not be considered equal in terms of strategic importance, best in class providers will have a place for all suppliers in their conversion campaign so you can reap the greatest benefit.
An ideal payments provider will also work to ensure your relationship remains collaborative throughout initial and ongoing efforts. This will translate into regular reporting and status check meetings. Here, you’ll have the chance to track key performance indicators, determine if your approach needs tweaking, and learn if particular suppliers may need reinforcement from your in house team. Since supplier transition is far from a set in stone process, you’ll want to work with a team who’s able to make rapid course corrections depending on the results you analyze together.
If may initially feel as if you’re ceding too much control when counting on an outside operator to perform something as consequential as supplier enablement. However, there are partners who will operate as if they’re an extension of your operation, customize their outreach to your specifications, and appreciate that one size does not fit all suppliers. These are vital factors to look for when selecting your enablement partner.