Lessons Learned In Business

Follow Up and Relationship Building With Suppliers – Wholesale Course Module 5 Part 4

Free Wholesale System - Module 5

This Post is part of the “FREE Wholesale Training Course”.  You can view the entire course listing and introduction to the course here.

You are here:

Module 5: Wholesale Relationship Building

You can click on each of the links above to go directly to the area of the module the best interests you.  That being said, let’s get right into the content!

Want to skip reading the massive wall of text?  After the entire course is released, I will make videos for each of the sections for easier consumption.  Make sure you are on our mailing list to be notified when it’s released!

Follow Up and Relationship Building With Suppliers

If there is absolutely one thing you take away from this entire module on wholesale relationship building – it’s this:

follow-upFollow up, and follow through.

What you want to do is setup a follow up SYSTEM.  Create yourself a mechanism that you MUST follow whenever there is a contact.  Once you create that system, all you have to do is follow it.

“What does a system look like?”

Great question, you sly reseller.

Here’s some of the common types of contact you can set systems for:

  • Initial supplier outreach
  • Trade show contact
  • Order has been placed / ongoing outreach
  • New account manager

Now, let’s see how some of the systems may vary for each type of contact:

Initial Supplier Outreach

When you initially contact a supplier, you need to prepare for two main outcomes: “landed supplier” and “didn’t land supplier”.  If you landed the supplier on first contact, then you likely can immediately move into the “order has been placed” contact system.  You’ll likely have other contact with the supplier prior to placing your first order, but you don’t necessarily need a follow up system for that.  You’ll naturally have a conversation as necessary to land your first order.  It’s when you are unable to land the supplier on the first contact that you need to have a follow up system.

Think about the type of end experience you want the potential supplier to receive.  Ultimately you want them to choose you to resell their products.  It may take 5-7 contacts to achieve that goal, so plan out exactly what those 5-7 contacts will look like.  Maybe it looks something like this:

  • 14 days after initial outreach: Send an email showing them something you noticed on Amazon that could be improved.
  • 30 days after initial outreach: Send an email that apprises them of a new Amazon change, or something that happened in the industry that they may not know.
  • 45 days after initial outreach: Send an email that outlines what some of their competitors are doing to take their market share.
  • 60 days after initial outreach: Call the sales rep, mainly just to see how things are going.
  • 75 days after initial outreach: Send an email to follow up with something learned from the phone call.
  • 90 days after initial outreach: Send an email that recaps all the value you’ve shown over the last 90 days.
  • 115 days after initial outreach: Call the sales rep, reiterate the value you can bring to their company.

Now, when you have a new supplier contact, you can put them through this system.  It ensures you have multiple touch points, and keeps you front of mind.  Eventually, they may “cave” and let you resell their product.  The goal here is to have a repeatable system, so you know exactly what happens every single time you find a lead.

Trade show contact

A contact from a trade show may look very similar to the initial supplier outreach, as these will typically be your first touch point with the supplier.  The only difference is specific follow up related to the trade show itself.  It may look something like this:

  • 3 days after the trade show: Send an email thanking them for their time at the trade show.  Ask to schedule a call to discuss working together.
  • 7 days after the trade show: (Assuming you haven’t scheduled a call yet) Send an email with some times to schedule a call to discuss working together.
  • 10 days after the trade show: (Assuming you haven’t schedule a call yet) Call the sales rep to discuss working together.

After you’ve made the initial contact via phone, then you can revert to the “initial supplier outreach” system.

Order has been placed / Ongoing Outreach

Once an order has been placed, your work isn’t done.  You want to keep a system in place to have regular contact with your sales reps.  It ensures you are top of mind when a great deal comes along.  An ongoing system will have recurring contact that happens at certain intervals.  It may look something like this:

  • 15th of the month: Send an email asking about any closeout or monthly specials.
  • Near the sales reps birthday: Send an email, or a physical card in the mail to wish them happy birthday.
  • 1st of the month: Send an email following up on something you know about them personally.
  • Christmas time: Send a physical Christmas card, thanking them for a good year.
  • Once every two months: Call the sales rep, just to chat.
  • Once every six months: Send an email asking for feedback.  Is there anything you can do better?

I’m sure there are many other things you can think of to show gratitude for the sales reps.  Just create a system around it – and follow the system.

New account manager

Sometimes, you’ll receive a phone call or an email that your contact at your supplier has changed.  The other sales rep may have gotten promoted, fired, or left on their own.  This means you have a fresh person that doesn’t know you at all.  You’ll need to modify your systems a little bit, because they don’t really know you.  The goal of this system is to introduce you to them, and to start building a rapport.  It may look something like this:

  • Immediately upon notification of new sales rep: Call the new sales rep to introduce yourself.
  • 3 days after notification of new sales rep: Send an email thanking them for their time on the introduction call.  Remind them of what you are working on for them.
  • 7 days after notification of new sales rep: Send an email outlining what the process has been in the past with your previous sales rep.

After you’ve done the “initiation”, you can put them into the standard ongoing outreach system.  Think of other ways you can introduce yourself – and build it into the system!

Automating The System

automate

Remembering to do everything above can certainly be a tall order – especially when you have hundreds of contacts.  We’ve talked before about using a CRM to capture your leads, and I can’t stress the importance of using software to track it all.  Outside of using a CRM, there are some other things you can do to automate the process:

  • Setup an email auto-responder.  A lot of the emails mentioned above should go out like clock-work.  You can create automated emails to go out on a scheduled basis with an auto-responder.  I personally use Aweber for our email auto-responder, but you can use other companies such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact.  Aweber calls this a Legacy Follow up Series, which is a sequence of emails sent out to a new subscriber.  All you have to do is create the emails in advance, and add them to the series.  When you have a new contact, add them to the mailing list so they receive the series.  Just remember to remove the email once you are working with them!  You don’t want them to get an automated “sales email” after you are already working with them!
  • Setup templates for each email.  If you aren’t using an auto-responder, you will want to setup templates for each email type.  Something as easy as a google doc with all of your emails will work.  If you use Gmail, there is a free plugin called Canned Responses you can install.  When you are ready to send your emails, it can be done with a quick copy / paste, or by pressing send!
  • In your CRM, create a pipeline.  We discussed pipelines earlier in the CRM section, but I’ll touch on it again.  A pipeline is a sequence of events that happen when you “onboard” a new lead.  You can setup reminders in those pipelines in most CRM’s.  You can’t necessarily automate phone calls, but you can automate reminders to ensure you do them!
  • Hire a gift giving service.  There are companies such as the Ruhlin Group that specialize in sending gifts on a regular basis.  This is a very high level service however, so I would only recommend it for instances where you have an extremely high value client.
  • Have a virtual assistant work the system.  Emails can easily be sent out by virtual assistants if you have templates prepared for them.  They can also remind you to make phone calls!  If you don’t have a virtual assistant yet, I recommend OnlineJobs.ph.

The goal for automation is to spend less time on repeatable tasks, so you have time for the things you HAVE to do.  Like making phone calls!

Following Through

As important as follow up is, following through may be even more important.  This means that you do exactly what you said you were going to do.  Did you tell them you would follow up in two weeks to see what closeout items they have?  Make sure you do it.  Did you tell them you would optimize some of their listings?  Give them an estimated date of when it will be completed, and do your best to make sure it’s completed.  If you think you may not hit the deadline, send an email outlining a revised date, and reasons why it’s being pushed back.  People LOVE transparency.  Even if you couldn’t do exactly what you said you could do, proactively own up to it, and let them know.  This is much better than another reseller that doesn’t have much contact, and are a closed book on everything they do.

Any way you look at it, if all you do is follow through, you’ll likely be leaps and bounds ahead of others.

Building Relationships

Creating an efficient follow up system should make it very easy to build relationships with key people.  Here’s some final tips to help keep your relationships solid:

  • Share your knowledge.  You don’t need to teach them everything you know.  However, it’s important to educate them on the benefits of things you are working on.  For example, if you are optimizing their listings, you don’t necessarily need to show them how to optimize them on Amazon’s site.  But, you can educate them that anyone can make suggestions for changes, and unless they have brand registry, you may not have final control over what customers see on Amazon’s site.
  • Be patient in building new relationships.  When you meet someone new and exciting, sometimes you want to keep talking to them all the time.  Resist it.  The last thing you want to do is smother them.  They have a job they need to do too!  This is why it’s important to create a follow up system.  All you have to do is follow exactly what you planned out.  As time moves on, the relationship will build upon itself as you follow the system.
  • Respond Promptly.  This doesn’t mean you need to respond to that email within seconds of your receiving them. However, you shouldn’t wait days to respond.  I always like to respond to any email that comes in within 24 hours.  Also, whenever there is a message from them, I like to reply back to them.  Even if it’s a semi-automated email blast, just sending them a message saying “Thanks for passing that along!  How are the kids?” goes a long way.
  • Give them access to your network.  If they are looking for something, and you know someone who can help – make the connection!  The more connections you make with them, the more likely they are to prioritize you over others.
  • Get to know them personally.  Every phone call and every email doesn’t have to be 100% business 100% of the time.  Take some time to get to know them. What’s their favorite sports team?  How many kids do they have?  What hobbies do they have?  What vacations do they have lined up this year?  These are all things you can follow up with later on.  When you know things about them personally, it makes the relationship even deeper.
  • Ask for feedback.  Let them know you are open to suggestions to make things better.  When you show you are trying to get better, it will impress them!  Not to mention…you can actually get better.

That’s it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed module 5 of the Free Wholesale System.  If you think you’ve learned a lot from this free course, you may be interested in my upcoming Advanced Wholesale System, which includes videos and a lot of additional information.  Sign up below, so you’ll be notified as soon as it’s released!

Need some help in your business?  Check out how I can help your business.

About author View all posts Author's Website

Chris Potter

Chris Potter is an internet entrepreneur that loves working on businesses and helping others with their businesses. He has operated businesses that have sold over $25 million in retail sales, bought and sold a blog design business, and started websites from scratch. Skyrocket your business by joining his Mentoring Program!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *