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BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS ON MFG.COM: A GUIDE FOR NEW SUPPLIERS – Part 3 of 3

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In part 1 of this three-part series, we spoke about the preparation needed set yourself up for success on MFG.com. Part 2 offered five specific strategies to help you choose the best opportunities from among the many available in the marketplace. In this last blog of the series, we address the importance of using MFG.com’s communication tools to connect with potential new customers and begin building relationships with them.

You’ve completed the suggestions in parts 1 and 2 of this series. You’ve gotten your training. You’ve set up your company profile and you’ve learned to spot the jobs (and buyers) that best fit your shop. You’ve identified a few promising RFQs and you want to start putting together quotes. Should you dive right in? Our recommendation may surprise you.

Before you start quoting, there’s an important step we strongly suggest you take. It’s often overlooked by beginning suppliers, but it can be the key to many successes over the long haul. And that step is … wait for it … contacting the buyer. You read it here first.

Part of the beauty of the MFG.com system is that we give you the ability to contact buyers who have open RFQs – often via telephone (not all buyers publish their telephone number), but always via a direct message. Contacting them in the right way can pay amazing dividends for you. In fact, suppliers who have been members of the MFG.com marketplace for years, and who regularly win business, always cite “communicating with customers” as the secret weapon they use to win again and again.

Think about it. If all you do is submit a quote without having established any kind of relationship, you’re just going to be a number to the buyer. And as a number, if you are higher than the other numbers, you have a limited chance of winning. Couple that with the fact that, as a new supplier, you haven’t yet built a reputation in the marketplace and the competitive challenge becomes very real. The solution is to build relationships by opening up communications with your potential customers.

Sending messages that build rapport, asking insightful questions and, especially, suggesting ways to improve manufacturability of the buyer’s part (and thereby create an opportunity to lower the cost) can serve to show the buyer that you are competent, engaged and willing to go the extra mile to help them be successful. It’s a crucial step that you shouldn’t overlook.

A few tips on building rapport with buyers on the MFG platform

  1. When you begin to contact buyers, keep in mind that you are a salesperson in this particular context. That means buyers may not respond as quickly as you would like.
  2. The message you send makes all the difference. You’ll know when you’ve asked the right questions or made the right suggestions because you’ll get a prompt reply. Similarly, generic messages may look like spam to the buyer and likely won’t get much of a response at all.
  3. Don’t pester buyers with repeated messages and phone calls in a short period of time. Checking in on a regular basis, though, is a good thing. In general, if buyers want to talk to you, they’ll respond to you. If they don’t, they won’t. Don’t get discouraged.
  4. Consider the size of the company you are contacting. Buyers from large organizations may be swamped with projects or they may be receiving inquiries from multiple MFG.com suppliers. Responding to your questions or phone calls may not be their top priority. Buyers from small to medium size companies, however, will often appreciate personal attention and your advice.  They’re your most likely target for successful early communications.
  5. Make reaching out a regular habit. Check in with your leads on a regular basis. Time passes quickly and soon you’ll have a significant pipeline of potential customers. Sooner or later, you’re bound to hit pay dirt.
  6. And finally, keep in mind that sometimes a supplier who originally won the job fails to deliver. Whether it’s quality, economics or poor service, these failures put buyers in need of a quick solution. By staying “top-of-mind” with buyers, you’ll increase the odds of being chosen to step in, fill the void and become the supplier of record.

A side benefit of all this communicating is that you will also be more effective in your quoting. You’ll have a better idea of what is driving the buyer. It could be price. It could be speed. Or, it could be quality. You’ll only know this if you’ve had a conversation with the buyer. In some cases, you’ll learn that the job isn’t right for you and you’ll have saved yourself the effort of preparing a quote needlessly.

In summary, winning on MFG.com is often, like so many other areas of life, about who you know. We provide you the opportunities to connect with hot leads at the exact moment they need the services of a shop like yours. Making the most of those leads begins with establishing good communications. Use the tools we provide and the suggestions in this post and you’ll quickly be on your way to success.

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