Five years ago, I shared in Staffing Industry Review magazine some guidance when approaching a new client, in “Do’s and Don’ts: How a former staffing professional would approach sales.” That advice is just as relevant today. But what about after you’ve earned the buyer’s business? How should you proceed to ensure your partnership stays on solid ground?

The vetting of a new supplier can be a long and arduous process task for a buyer. We receive numerous calls, texts and emails with the same messages, and trying to find a supplier that is true to its values and business capabilities can be daunting. But that is just the beginning.

There are key components that program managers look for from their staffing providers as well as challenges that can either create success or drive them to end a partnership. Here are what I consider the most critical.

Being true to your word. If you say you can do something, then deliver. Many of my counterparts in contingent workforce management feel there is a bait-and-switch tactic staffing firms employ to earn our business. We understand that you will not be perfect, but be honest on what you can or can’t do.

Procedures. The beginning of a partnership can pave the way to its success — or its demise. When a buyer spends time with you to train you on and review program requirements and expectations, be sure to share those learnings with your team immediately. When buyers spend time training and then procedures are not followed, they lose confidence in the supplier.

Onboarding. During the onboarding process, understand the components of the program expectations. I will often specify certain documents that need to be signed, reviewed and returned — and 75% of the time, I have to follow up and request missing items. A supplier’s inattention to details and failure to follow defined steps and provide requested documentation can make a buyer second-guess their choice of supplier.

Compliance. Compliance with the workforce program policies is essential to your long-term partnership. A program manager can assess your overall performance and advocate for your continued support. Regardless of your performance at a site level, lack of overall program compliance can easily be cause for the program manager to suspend and terminate your partnership.

Expanding your partnership. Prior to requesting additional business, understand the overall satisfaction level, as the suppliers who meet or exceed the overall goals of the program will be rewarded. Asking for new business when you are not successful could call into question the reason behind the partnership. In addition, understand that if the companies you service have a central or decentralized program, going outside of this request can lead back into lack of compliance and cause frustration for the program manager.

Proactive solutions. Bring solutions and strategy into your partnership. Understand the expectations of the various program stakeholders, as each one will be different — program managers focus on overall compliance, operations focuses on fill rates, quality of talent and timeliness, and human resources focuses on the workforce.

If you start to see challenges, be the first to bring them to your client’s attention — along with potential solutions and what has or hasn’t worked in the past. For example, we may be in an employees’ market right now, which often leads to demands of higher pay; however, increasing pay rates is not always a solution nor an option. Buyers count on suppliers to share their expertise.

Your program manager will be your biggest advocate with the objective of setting you up for success. After all, they have just gone through an arduous process resulting in your selection. So, remember to share expectations and challenges with all who internally support the program and keep them informed. Respect the rules and be the partner and advisor that they need. In the end, your success translates to success for them as well.