Asking your supplier appropriate questions sets the stage for the project. A lack of formulating purposeful questions leads to irritating and perhaps costly surprises. Prior to approaching a supplier to start a new project, roll up your sleeves, hash out a game plan and determine key questions.

Asking questions:

  • Improves your knowledge about what’s happening with your offshore project.
  • Sharpens your communication with offshore suppliers that are using English as a second language. Perhaps you’re also using English as a second language. Thus you could say, asking questions helps to sharpen your “international sourcing communication”.
  • It’s a way to control the order. Often (not always) you can tell by the suppliers’ the response if you’re on the same page. Or if something’s not quite right and further digging is required….or even a quick flight booked to see where the breakdown is.
  • Not asking questions leads to surprises

    It frequently happens where a buyer thinks everything is going great. The supplier is moving towards the area you want them. The order is on the horizon.

    Then you realize both sides were discussing 2 different things when it came to quality. This makes the price invalid and this makes much of the prior work to be wasted.

    I’m giving a hypothetical scenario of course, but similar situations frequently happen.

    Never think, if there’s something important I need to know, the supplier will tell me. Always take pre-game opportunity on the sidelines to formulate the blanks you need to fill.

    When it comes to manufacturing, a buyer should be inquisitive

    If you don’t find yourself with a practical list of questions and the desire of asking, you may need to check your fundamental attitude as a buyer.

    Lack of asking, shows a casualness in your work method.

    Casualness leads to production errors. When working with a Chinese factory, you’re already combating casualness, their own margin of errors, their work volume and all the obstacles that come from working abroad.

    Asking questions helps you to gain a knowledge base and build upon that with subsequent orders. Many buyers, although they frequently buy from China, because of their haphazard approach, every order is like it’s their first order.

    You don’t want to add to it by being REACTIVE.

    Buyers that are developing their own product line or working in a more heavy duty product realm tend to be more inquisitive. The area that I work in for the branded promo industry and retail buyers, these are the buyers that could tighten up in the area of improving their own product knowledge.

    One thing to spotlight, is that a balance is required. In asking questions you’re goal is not to be overbearing and micromanaging to the extent off falling off the other side of the road. Keep a balance and ask appropriate questions. Asking inappropriate questions leads everyone down rabbit trails causing a loss of focus on the key points.