How to stand out among your business competitors and get onto your client’s list of qualified sources for raw materials.
As a procurement professional, I get approached by many raw material sales professionals from around the world who wish to become a qualified source for our company. I’d like to share some tips to leverage your position when approaching buyers, increase the chances of getting an order, and lower frustrations and waiting time throughout the process. Our goal here is to be as transparent as possible in the sourcing process, and create a healthy interaction between the buying and selling firms.
Prepare to send an email initially that encompasses all the information a buyer would want to know. A phone call, or a meeting request is not a good idea; it is too early; you need to prepare your case first and find out common ground where you see business opportunities for both parties.
Learn about the industry you want to sell to
As a raw material manufacturer/supplier, you might be supplying to a variety of industries that have different requirements (legal/governmental, material grade, etc). Make sure your products are suited for the specific company you are approaching. Mention the CAS number (if available) and specify the grade of your products in the email you are preparing to send.
Prepare your case with the help of supporting documentations and Certificates (CEs)
Find out what certificates (GMP, ISO, etc) are required for the specific industry you are planning to supply to and make sure you include this information in your email/presentation. You will be asked later to provide the actual CE copies if your case is successful. Therefore if any of the documents/CEs are in progress and not obtained yet, do specify this in your email and provide time frames for their expected availability.
If you do not have a specific CE that you know is important for the target industry, prepare to introduce an equivalent certificate, or prepare to explain your plans to pursue one in the future and provide a timeframe for their availability. Be clear and specific about your intentions and your capabilities with regards to supporting documents.
Attach other relevant information with your email to help your case appear more appealing.
Provide answers to common questions such as:
- What is the minimum order quantity (MOQ) you accept (if applicable)?
- What is the standard lead-time, shipping terms, shipping point?
- How often do you produce this material and what is the batch size (EBQ)?
- How many distribution centres do you have?
- What are the pack sizes available for your products?
Along with the email, you may also attach your product portfolio that you find suitable to the needs of the company. You can also include name of the companies you have worked with in the past and the successful partnership experiences you have. This would help uphold your company’s image with the buyers as well.
Then go ahead and send the email!
Allow some time, normally a week. If you did not hear back from them by then, send a follow up email. With the multitude of emails buyers receive, it is possible your email may have been overlooked.
Once you hear back, answer all the questions/concerns (if any)
If the potential clients come back to you with questions, make sure you address them all well. In scenarios where comprehensive information was provided to them via email already, samples for certain products may be requested. This would lead us to the next step.
Send a sample of your products
Sending a sample sooner than this stage would not help; at least in the Pharmaceutical industry. The material needs to be pre-approved upon reviewing of documentations such as Certificate of Analysis, MSDS, CEs, etc. Once the documentation and information have been received and acknowledged, you might be asked for samples, or you can take the initiative and propose to send some.
Ask for a timeline
Do not refrain from asking for timelines that qualification processes might take after the submission of all the required information and documents. This would prevent unnecessary follow-ups and back and forth emails.
Ask about the scope of the project
You have every right to ask about the scope of the related projects once you have come to a common ground with the new customer. It shows your commitment to a proactive supply plan. However, it is important to understand the implications of the current stage in the product life cycle. Is it a commercial project, launch, or an R&D related product? If it is the latter, do not expect to receive a lot of information regarding the forecast, quantity or time of future orders. It is too early and the actual demand will be more clear once the finished good is launched into the market and initial market response is evaluated and incorporated into our annual production plan.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.