Lessons Learned In Business

Making Initial Contact with Suppliers – Wholesale Course Module 5 Part 3

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!

Making Initial Contact with Suppliers

You’ve done the research.  You’ve made your list of leads.  You’ve checked it twice like Santa.  Now what?

It’s time to start contacting them!

There are three basic ways that you will typically make initial contact with brand owners: email, phone, and in person at a trade show.  Lets dive into each of them.

Initial Contact Via Email

This is probably the simplest form of contacting a supplier.  What is easier than just copy and pasting responses and sending them out to 100 potential contacts at once?  Press the send button, throw your arms up in the air – and you are DONE!  Even your cat could do it!

pounding keyboard

Well…hold on.  That’s the same thing everyone else is doing.  If you want to succeed, you have to be unique.  There was this thread on reddit I read recently about college admissions.  Someone asked “People who check University Applications. What do students tend to ignore/put in, that would otherwise increase their chances of acceptance?”  Here’s a portion of an excellent response:

“Their essays are generic, too, because they fail to include how they think, feel, or view the world differently as a result of their experiences. I cannot tell you how many students’ essays I’ve read that talk about football or piano or their research position and just gives an A to Z guide of their participation in the activity. Do you know how many other students have done the same activities? These essays all blend together and tell us little about YOU other than what we could have already gleaned from your activities list. One of my favorite essays from recent years started as just an essay about the student’s participation in orchestra. After a lot of 1-on-1 brainstorming and revisions, the student wrote an excellent essay starting with really cool imagery about the origami artwork hanging from her bedroom ceiling before transitioning into her hobbies. She wrote something like, “Just as distinctly different are the [origami shape 1] and [origami shape 2] hanging above my head are my passions for [activity 1] and [music]—but they both hang in my heart.” It was more well-written than that, but I’m pulling from the dregs of my memory. The essay turned out awesome, was super reflective of how the student thought, felt, or viewed the world differently as a result of her experiences and interests, and she’s currently at an Ivy League university—in part because she wrote an essay at the Ivy League level”

Hundreds of potential students send in their applications to Universities every year.  Brand owners likely get the same thing.  Think about the emails you are sending to suppliers.  Are they generic, or are they reflective of how you thought and viewed their company differently as a result of your experiences?

Some other courses give you templates to use.  Why in the world would you follow them?  If a potential brand owner sees the same email 15 times, how are you going to stand out?

That being said, I will not give you any templates here to use.  You will need to figure out what to send on your own.  You will need to test and see what works best.

“Hold on, hold on.  You aren’t going to help me here?”

Stop twisting my arm.  Ok, I’ll help a little.

I would suggest testing a few different ways wording your emails.  One of them would be something extremely simple introducing yourself, and letting them know you are interested in carrying their products.  Short, simple, to the point.  Another method could be to do some additional research on their company, and identifying things you can help them with.    Another could be just mentioning which products you are interested in.

I’m sure you can come up with some ideas that you can use in emails.  It’s just a matter of testing things out, and seeing what works!

Keep in mind, sometimes the simplest things can work.  You won’t know until you try them!

Initial Contact Via Phone

Honestly, making an initial contact via phone is as simple as asking for the person in charge of opening new wholesale accounts.  Once you get in touch with that person, let them know your intentions of reselling to get the ball rolling.

you sell stuffYou don’t necessarily need to be as sly with phone calls as you do with emails.  When someone is looking at their emails, they are probably rummaging through 50-100 emails at a time.  There are a lot of other emails that are trying to grab the attention of the person you are trying to reach.  With a phone call, it’s totally different.  You usually are put directly on the top of the list.

There are quite a few questions you can ask to gain information from that initial contact:

  • What are your thoughts about selling on Amazon?
  • Do you have MAP guidelines?
  • What are your initial order quantities?
  • How can you get free shipping on orders?
  • What are the price breaks for discounts?
  • How often do you come out with new products?
  • What’s your process for new product releases?
  • Are your products in any brick and mortar locations?
  • What does your distribution system look like?

Asking these questions can help you figure out how to help them.  Sometimes you’ll get straightforward answers.  You’ll get price lists right away, and you’ll be able to open an account quickly.  In other cases, you’ll get round about answers, and strong objection to you selling on Amazon.  As mentioned in the previous section, try to figure out ways to solve the problems they are telling you they have.

“What if I have to leave a message?”

This happens a LOT.  I like to let them know I am looking to add their product line to our existing selection.  I also give them my phone number, AND email address.  Finally, I let them know when I’ll follow up.  “If I haven’t heard back from you by Friday, I’ll give you a call back.”  Then…make sure you follow up!

Initial Contact In Person At a Trade Show

When you visit a trade show, there are multiple ways you can attack it:

  • Be prepared ahead of time.  Know who your targets are, and schedule appointments
  • Just show up, and walk the floor.
  • Make a purposeful roundup of price lists and contact information.  After your first round, go back to potential targets.

my feet hurtAny way you look at it, you’ll still need to talk to people.  Regardless of what method you are using, there is a process you can use during your initial contact.

Here’s the main things I like to do when talking with reps at trade shows:

  • Small talk. Ask some questions about them to break the ice:
    • How’s the show going so far?  Lots of traffic?
    • Where are you guys from?  How’s the weather there?
    • Oh…it’s a Michigan fan! (insert any sports franchise if they are wearing something sports related)
    • You look like you are having a BLAST!
    • Enjoying being on the road for the trade show?
    • If I was a betting man, I bet you are from Florida… (Oh, I’m wrong?  That’s why I don’t bet on things like that..only 1/50 shot!  Worse than slots!)
  • Ask questions about some of their products.   Doing so will show your interest in their products.
    • What are they made out of?
    • How are they packaged?
    • Where are they made?
    • What are your favorite products?  Why?
  • Ask questions about their company.  This allows you to get a better understanding of their stance in a lot of things.
    • Why do you love working for  XXXX?
    • What kind of things do you do for your company? (Gives you an idea of what knowledge level the person may have.)
    • If I wanted to tell someone you did an excellent job here today, who would be the person I should tell?  (Figure out who their boss is.)
    • What’s your thoughts on Amazon? (Gives you an easy way for them to tell you their problems, which you can empathize with.)
    • How does your company market their products? (Tells you how much they know, and also how you can help them in marketing.)
    • Why is your company better than XXXX?  (Tells you what they think about their competitors.)
    • What type of partner is your company looking for?  (Gives you some more ideas about pain points.)
  • Collect contact information, to follow up with them later.
    • If I want to reach you after the show, what would be the best way to do so?
    • When will you be back in the office?
    • What other trade shows do you have upcoming where you will be out of the office?
  • Collect other information that can be useful to make decisions.
    • Do you have price lists in electronic format that can be emailed?
    • Are there any MAP agreements?
    • Is there an application I need to fill out?
    • What terms do your company offer?
  • Take notes / enter into your CRM
    • If you have a mobile CRM, enter the contact info immediately.
    • Log any notes about your conversations.
    • Set a follow up date to follow up with the rep when they are in town.

There are plenty of other things you can talk about while at the trade show.  Keep in mind, you don’t typically have a lot of time on the floor, so you have to ration out your time appropriately.

The entire goal is to have a good conversation with each person, and gain the information you are looking for.

Be Personable, Make a Good First Impression

Doing the things mentioned above should help you make an excellent first impression.  You want to start moving conversations in the right direction, and using the ice breakers and contact ideas above should help!  Remember, just be yourself, be personable, and make things happen!

Now that you’ve made the initial contact, it’s time to follow up and keep those relationships relevant!

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

Continue on to Module 5 Part 4: Follow up contact with suppliers

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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!

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