Project Management

How to Build a Good Buyer-Seller Relationship

Everyone is either buying or selling something in business. Both buyers and sellers involved should be able to reap the rewards of their interactions with each other, but sometimes not everyone is on the same page. In a post at The Project Risk Coach, Harry Hall gives some recommendations from his experience as both a buyer and a seller for establishing good relationships:

  1. Define the buyer/seller relationship.
  2. Do what you said you would do.
  3. Evaluate the buyer/seller relationship.

Relationship-Building Recommendations

The first step is to make sure both parties have clear roles and responsibilities. Maybe you have a project that requires third-party services. Hall says that there are some questions you should consider when defining these roles:

  • Who will facilitate the requirement sessions?
  • Who will validate and approve the requirements?
  • Who will develop the design?
  • Who will validate and approve the design?
  • Who will set up the development, test, and production environments?
  • Who will write the software code?
  • Who will perform the unit testing, function testing, integration testing, and performance testing?
  • What type of lifecycle (e.g., plan-driven or change-driven) will you use?
  • When will the seller invoice the buyer?
  • How will the invoices be approved? How will payments be made?

He then suggests to develop a master agreement, which define the general terms and conditions, and statements of work, which define the deliverables and responsibilities. These documents can come from either the seller or buyer; it only matters that there is clarity of who is doing what.

Following through with what you said you would do is another essential part of a successful relationship. Failure to do so breaks down trust on either end. As a seller, it’d be better to pass on a project you can’t deliver on than to not be able to deliver on what was promised. From a buyer standpoint, make sure you can check references and interview individuals for your team. Hall suggests you drop anyone who doesn’t give the ability to choose who you work with.

Periodic, one-on-one meetings to evaluate your relationship should happen to make sure everything remains on track. These meetings can improve communication and allow issues that arise to be solved quickly.

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