LEAN ON YOUR SUPPLIER
Leveraging the capabilities of your supplier partner is key to attracting long-term accounts. Together, you can match the particular needs of each client or prospect, but open and honest dialogue between both parties must occur. Collins recommended that distributors inquire about their supply-chain partner’s capabilities upfront. “Understand any extra charges or timing on custom orders and get clarification on any questions before you commit to an order,” he said. “Have good communication with their sales representatives and ensure that their customer service team is knowledgeable and available to help when you need them.”
From seminars to facility tours, Triangle Printing & Packaging Company takes a proactive approach with education, having trained more than 30 distributors over the years. “The key ingredient to all of this is making sure distributors understand their clients’ needs,” Dohm said. “Twice this week, I was on the phone on a conference call with one of our distributors and their client, discussing the objectives of a project or a campaign.”
By asking the right questions, Dohm continued, the plant gets the information it needs to make the client happy—a win-win for all. Some questions are basic. For example, when it comes to promotional packaging, ask about distribution. Is the packaging going to be mailed, or is it going to be given out? If it’s a retail product, Dohm said to ask where it will be displayed: a Wal-Mart, a grocery store, a pharmacy, etc. Then, there’s shelf space (how much) and the type of shelving (end cap, top of shelf) to consider.
Also, ask about the price point of the retail product. “A lot of times, ‘under $20’ are considered impulse items and people will make more of a decision there based on the feel/touch aspect than the real benefits of the product,” Dohm mentioned.
Collins added a question of his own. “If a customer is doing an event, ask if they would be reordering the piece instead of a one-time use,” he instructed. “If it’s a one-time use, the cost of ink imprinting instead of hot stamping could be a cost savings.”