Partners vs. Suppliers – Which One Are Buyers Looking For?

Buyers don’t look for new suppliers every day — it’s rare, time consuming, difficult, and even a bit risky to change suppliers.

So when they do look, they’re not seeking out a one-shot, “easiest” supplier — they’re looking for a new long-term partner so that they won’t have to go through the process again anytime soon. No matter what area of the sales cycle you’re targeting, here’s what you can do to position yourself as a true partner.

Prove your value.

What is “value?” It means different things to different buyers. Try and find out what’s most important to your ideal prospects — but make it clear to all buyers that you have something valuable to offer. It could mean your unmatched reliability that lets them sleep better at night. It could mean collaborative problem solving that helps them find new process efficiencies. Your unique value proposition gives buyers a great tool to sell you to the rest of their organization and bring you on board as a partner.

Price is not king.

On the same page as value — there’s only one “cheapest supplier.” They don’t always get chosen, and with good reason: upfront cost savings don’t always translate to long-term value, and can actually end up costing more over time if there are quality or reliability issues. Make it clear how you can impact their bottom line beyond the sale.

Tell your story.

Putting a human face on your business creates a connection. You can make yourself more than just another supplier by providing valuable content, commentary, and information through social media, a blog, well-crafted email marketing, and your website. Creating a backstory that potential buyers become familiar with even if they’re not ready-to-buy can help you cement a partnership later on.

Be upfront and proactive.

Be a team player from the start — make it easy for buyers to choose you through how you position yourself, the content and information that you make available, and how you differentiate yourself from your competition. Being proactive in meeting their requirements in choosing you as a supplier shows that you understand their needs and will continue to cater to them throughout your working relationship.

Go beyond the transaction.

What do you offer after the sale? Are you an innovation leader? Will you increase capacity to match the growth of your customers? Will you keep them aware of new technology and industry trends? Your free ThomasNet.com profile and all the content you create can help you talk about what sets you apart after the transaction.

Want to find out buyers look for when choosing suppliers for a partnership? Download our 2018 Industrial Buying Habits report.

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