How to get your foot in the door: a Certified Suppliers perspective

As a Certified Supplier with Supply Nation, the opportunities to engage in meaningful business partnerships with Supply Nation Members are plentiful if you do your homework, have a plan and maintain relationships. In this article Jasmin Herro has included her tips for getting your foot in the door.

By Jasmin Herro CEO Outback Global, Vice President Outback Global USA

Before you begin, there is some preparation that will help you on your way. Having clarity about what your business does and whom you want to conduct business with is important. Not every opportunity will be the right fit for your business, and you may not secure every opportunity that you apply for. This is part of the process, as you begin to identify the products and services you can supply to Member companies. Take heart in the fact that with every “no,” you are getting closer to a “yes”.

I’ve suggested some easy steps to get you started. The first step involves asking yourself a series of questions. You might like to workshop these either with your business partner or a mentor. Remember there are no right or wrong answers.  These questions are  to guide and help you position your business and to determine how you could interact with a Supply Nation Member company. It might be worth keeping these notes somewhere secure and reviewing them as you grow into your business skin. 

Step 1: Questions to ask yourself

1.    What are you selling?
Consider the Supply Nation Member business - What do they do? What could you sell them?  Are you selling them a service or a product? Do you have samples of your work?

Ideally, you should have testimonials that will make your prospective customer recognise that you are serious about your business.

2.    Who do you want to sell to? 
Do you want to sell a product to a Member or to their customers? It is important to have a defined goal. For example, if you make cleaning products, do you want to sell them to Coles to sell to Coles customers (B2C), or do you want to sell them to Coles to use them to clean their own stores (B2B).

Step 2: Research the Supply Nation Member organisation

Use the Internet to search for information, watch the news, read industry magazines and subscribe to Supply Nation Member LinkedIn and Facebook pages. As a bare minimum, Google the following:
(a) Company CEO
(b) Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
(c) Company name and news

Most importantly, log into the database on the Supply Nation website. This is your best tool for contacting Supply Nation Members and to see what goods and services they buy. Don’t forget to Google the company contact, and read their LinkedIn profile.

Step 3: Prepare for the telephone call

Write down, word for word, what you are going to say to introduce yourself and your business. Keep it to 100 words or less. This will give you about one minute to introduce your company. 

Don’t send a blanket email to all the companies listed in the database, as this will only annoy the Supply Nation Members and you’ll probably end up in the junk folder.

I have drafted below a sample script, which can be rewritten and edited, using your own name and personal style.
It may sound silly but practice in front of a mirror and speak while you are smiling, that way your voice will come over in a friendly manner.
“Hi Jim, my name is xxx, I am the owner/CEO/Director (or you can say) I am from xxx. We are Certified Suppliers of Supply Nation and I got your details from the Supply Nation website.

My business does xxx and I would like to come in and see you to present the company and see if there are any opportunities to engage in business.
I am in the city / I am in your area on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I can come and see you around 10am on one of those days next week.”

Step 4: Build your relationships

Network and engage. Attend Supply Nation or Supply Nation Member events as much as possible, then your buyers won’t be strangers. It will be like catching up with old friends.

Top tips: Below are my top tips to guide you in contacting Supply Nation Members

  • Keep to the word count of approximately 100 words. This quickly introduces your business and clarifies the aim of the call, to make an appointment.
  • It is best not to make an appointment first thing on a Monday morning as it gives people a chance to get back to work.
  • Supply Nation Members are very busy, some travel a lot and their diaries can fill up months in advance. Have your diary in front of you, up-to-date with school holidays and other personal commitments, so that you can book future dates with confidence.
  • For appointments more than two months in advance, ring approximately a week before to check that the appointment is still going to be held.
  • Ring the day before to confirm the appointment and also check the address.
  • Plan your transport to the meeting by using Google maps to look at the building and where it is in relation to parking and transport.
  • Ask if they can suggest the best place to park or mode of transport so that you can plan to be early.
  • If your call goes to voicemail, use the same introduction as a message.
  • Make a record of the date and time of your call in your diary or in the file you make for the company and note that you have left a message. This will be the beginning of your interaction diary and as time goes on if you look back and see that you have left several messages you might want to change the time of day that you called or alternatively send an email and mention that you have left a number of messages. 

Getting your foot in the door is an achievable task if you have an understanding about your business, have a plan and do your homework on Supply Nation Members. Use my simple steps as a guide to assist you. These are things I’ve learnt with a lot of practice. When you get the appointment don’t forget to take plenty of business cards and your company profile. Good Luck!