How persistant are you to get a new supplier?

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I’ve heard of some suppliers being particularly difficult or even impossible to get accounts with, but today I was told a story of persistence which is pretty impressive.

The retailer in question placed a weekly phone call to a particular supplier and never even managed to get through to the contact they were trying to reach. As soon as they explained that they wanted to become a customer they were blanked.

This went on for a whole year. A weekly phone call that was rejected out of hand, so after a year they sent the manufacturer a “First Anniversary” card and mentioned that they’d really love to speak to the contact before the second anniversary.

It worked! Well, not quite – the lady in question was amused and intrigued enough with the anniversary card that she phoned the retailer the following day – She explained that due to there efforts they at least deserved to speak to her, but that there was still no way that they’d ever get an account.

After just another six months of persisting they eventually had their account!

What’s the hardest supplier or manufacturer have you ever had to deal with and what tactics did you use to get an account opened?

4 Responses

  1. For me as a manufacturer its the other way round!

    Its very hard to get hold of big company’s buyers, their websites don’t have local telephone numbers that you can call from overseas to.
    And they don’t have email addresses, its all Form2mail these days.

    And if you do get to talk to them, it is very hard to get any interest in a new product.

    I don’t know why some companies employ buyers!

  2. I wouldn’t bother chasing! If they don’t want my business I am sure there will be 100 other people that might!

    When we first started out we wanted to sell other peoples brands and because we sold online no one wanted to know us! I was so tired of this we started our own brands instead.

    Now we make more money and don’t have to compete with other people selling the brands at low prices that you can never seem to match.

    Coming from the other side of being a buyer for a large group. You have to remember that the phone and emails would never stop with someone calling you about something they wanted to sell you! It is really hard to break into larger companies so my tip would be to start of small and work your way up, once you are in a few good independents you will get noticed, that was often they way I would find new suppliers!

  3. Suppliers we contacted only wanted online outlets who also had a bricks and mortar shop to sell their products.

    We gave them our sales forecast and told them how we would become one of the countries largest accounts, they still said no.

    In the end we spent a few days turning the reception area of our warehouse into a shop/showroom and then applied for the account. We had the account granted and have since become the largest dealer in our area and one of the top in the country. We also closed our shop/showroom shortly after.

    Our area sales manager will not come and see us as he knows we are breaking the rules, their company policy states that if the shop closes the account must close. They have got to the point where they cannot afford to lose the business we generate, so they turn a blind eye.

    If you can generate enough business for anyone they will bend a rule or two.

  4. This is not a new problem. It goes back long before the Internet. I was the Company Accountant. In the division of responsibilities the Production Manager was supposed to see all Suppliers Reps. But as he was already working at 110% I had “adopted” (with his full agreement)this responsibility.

    One day a rep called on spec and was shown into my Office. He explained that he had been calling on Companies all day and I was the first who would see him.

    I asked him to go through his Catalogue and I soon identified a product that had the potential to sort out a problem that we had in the factory. I took him through to the Shop Floor and introduced him to the Supervisor with the problem. He demonstrated it and the Supervisor was very enthusiastic so we placed an order.

    I left the Company a while later and one day in the street I saw the Supervisor and asked her about this rep and his product. Not only was he still supplying that product but several others as well. All of our problems had been sorted. Yet everywhere else he had called had refused to see him yet they probably also had problems that they had failed to sort.

    I always made it a rule to always see reps. I had a cartoon on my desk of a King in full armour on his horse about to go into battle with sword and shield etc. A Courtier is trying to attract his attention. The King is saying “I have no time to see any crazy salesman I have a battle to fight”. The “Crazy” Salesman is selling Heavy Machine Guns!!. I always explained that I was looking for the Salesman selling Heavy Machine Guns and with the above Salesman obviously I found one.



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