The Benefits of Developing Strategic Supplier Relationships - Lessons from Facilis360
When we started our six-month Facilis360 program, we wanted to ensure the sales reps had an opportunity to develop relationships with our Facilis Preferred Suppliers, a collection of the top suppliers in the industry. The most successful reps have learned that just as with clients, you need to develop a relationship with your supplier reps as well. Trust, commitment, respect and loyalty – these are the building blocks for success in all relationships.
The 360 program took 10 willing sales reps and put them through a six-month coaching program that encouraged them to adopt the best practices we’ve researched and developed over the years, and made sure they knew how to use the tools available for prospecting and time management in our @ease software.
The result of the program was significant sales growth for every rep who adopted and adhered to the process. Even multi-million dollar reps benefitted with sales growth (!!) and better time management.
Overall, the 360 group grew sales by 46 percent, with one rep growing 219 percent by adding in additional sales strategies, including and developing a strong relationship with his preferred suppliers. That rep learned one of the basics that we always try to encourage with our partners – you have to work together to achieve the greatest growth!
With this type of strategic relationship, you can both accomplish more. Supplier visits are another way to build the relationship. Be proactive with every supplier visit by sending them your top five opportunities a week prior to the visit. See what your rep comes up with to help. You’ll find that two heads are better than one.
The reps in the 360 program worked with our preferred suppliers to develop powerful case studies and storyboards. Some aimed to create a steady pipeline of proactive ideas to prospects and clients. One even partnered with a strategic supplier to develop a custom product mailer for 25 franchise locations, which resulted in a successful account presentation, opening doors to new buyers and departments.
Another way we gave to leverage suppliers was through a sample box we call The HotBox. We offered it to all partners but gave 360 reps the first crack at putting it to use. The box contained 12 branded promo items. Reps could drop ship or deliver to prospects or clients they were looking to get noticed by. You’re sure to answer the email or pick up the ringing phone if you’ve just received and big box of great branded ideas, right?
Success rates were astonishing. One of reps remarked that at least 25 percent of the time, someone ordered at least one product out of the box. That more than covered the cost of the samples.
Other reps have created smaller scale boxes to use as direct mail pieces – to great success! Often, suppliers love to get involved in these opportunities and everyone has the same goal – to increase sales.
The 360 reps learned that supplier relationships matter and can be a huge boon to your sales process. We encourage you to build those relationships and shake things up with new ideas.