My chief marketing officer and I traveled to southern China recently to visit a large supplier of our blinds.
Everything about this company was enormous and impressive: the sheer size of the operation, the thousands of people it employs, the efficiency of their processes, their rigorous emphasis on quality control. Still, as impressive as it was, what really fascinated us was the value they put on candor.
Unlike our American suppliers, who tend to be tight-lipped about their business strategy, these Chinese owners were surprisingly open. They were willing to talk with us about their growth projections, their expansion plans, and their business challenges.
Sharing this kind of information was helpful as we discussed how we could do business together, not just over the coming year, but also over the coming 10 to 20 years. We generally don’t see this level of openness in our American suppliers, who seem to believe that sharing information is a sign of weakness.
But is it? I believe business relationships only become more valuable with more candor. So with that in mind, here are four things you should reveal to your strategic partners:
Because the Chinese executives shared their strategic information with us, we were equally open with them. Instead of dangling the carrot of the vast volumes of business we could bring them, we both felt comfortable saying we’d start relatively small, build mutual trust and grow together on a shared path.
It was a pleasure dealing with people in an open, respectful, long-term, aligned fashion. Yes, I realize that my naïveté might be showing; I’ve heard the Chinese are tough negotiators.
Still, it’s nice to think that we could always do business in a way where everyone comes out a winner. Don’t you?