If your company is like most, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored how critical your suppliers are to your business, providing the goods and services you need to continue servicing customers and running operations smoothly. As a result, maintaining strong supplier relationships has become more important than ever.
While your accounts payable department is working hard to keep your suppliers happy, anyone who works with them on your behalf is seen as your representative, and their actions – good or bad – will reflect on you. As more companies turn to supplier enrollment programs to reap the benefits of virtual cards, such as cash-back rebates and reduced fraud risk, how can they – and you – find the right payment service provider that will treat suppliers with a high level of respect?
6 Questions to Ask to Find the Right Supplier Enrollment Provider
Here are six questions you can ask to help you find the right payment service provider for supplier enrollment:
- What is their approach to supplier enrollment, and how do they compensate their staff? Some providers can be very aggressive and bully suppliers into accepting virtual card payments. They may even require their staff to meet excessive quotas for “enrolled” vendors. This approach results in tactics that turn suppliers off, and some providers may go so far as to record that suppliers have signed on to the program, even when they’ve declined. The next time you try to make a payment, your supplier won’t process it and you’ll be forced to reissue the payment, creating additional work. By contrast, look for a payment service provider that is committed to creating a positive supplier experience, educating suppliers, and treating each one with respect.
- Which suppliers will they pursue? While some providers will call all suppliers, others will only reach out to those that are specifically in their proprietary virtual card payment network or are generally known to accept credit cards. Some won’t accept suppliers below a specified dollar threshold or may require that you have a certain number of suppliers that meet their criteria in order to provide supplier enrollment services. If you want to increase the number of suppliers that accept virtual card payments, look for a payment service provider that is flexible and can accommodate both your and your suppliers’ needs.
- How would the provider work with your AP department? Look for a provider that offers flexibility and will work with you collaboratively, guided by best practices. The provider should be as hands-on as you need, but still ensure that you have control over which suppliers are contacted, and how they will be approached. Once you determine this, the provider can do the heavy lifting and reach out to them on your behalf, so you can focus on other tasks. Or if you prefer, you could split up the calls, or conduct them jointly. You should determine the degree of your involvement, according to your preference.
- Is the provider outsourcing the process? If a provider outsources supplier enrollment to a third-party, you will not only lose control over the process and interactions with your suppliers, you also can expect a big drop in quality and supplier satisfaction. Many third-third supplier enrollment services are just call centers that work their way mechanically through a supplier list. Moreover, if they’re charging upfront fees for the service, they lack incentive to drive the right outcomes.
- How does your provider access your supplier list? Will they continuously enroll new suppliers? Depending on your payment provider, you may need to export your supplier list from your ERP and send it to the provider. With an AP automation solution like MineralTree, this data will automatically sync over, saving you the step. Moreover, going forward, whenever payment is made to a new supplier, the payment service provider will automatically see that and be able to reach out to the supplier directly. This continuous enrollment process will ensure that your program maintains a higher level of participation on an ongoing basis.
Thoughtful Supplier Enrollment is a Win-Win-Win
Having happy suppliers is key to smooth business operations. While it makes sense to engage a payment service provider to effectively and efficiently run your payment process, it’s important that you engage the right partner for supplier enrollment. By asking the right questions, you can find the right provider, and create a win-win-win scenario all the way around: for you, your provider, and your valued suppliers.
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