So let me preface this by saying I was asking for a favor…sort of. I had asked a supplier if they had any specials on a specific pen they sell. I had a client interested in re-ordering, but was balking a bit at the price.
Yes or no was a perfectly acceptable answer. The response I got was this:
“Sales the last few years have been in the $3,200 to $5,200 range. Is there a specific price point you and your team like to sell? Just trying to figure out what has been holding back our development?”
Now you might think that this person was asking sales questions. They are just trying to learn how to grow our business. And honestly, I am sure that is what they were trying to accomplish. But that’s not what I heard. What I heard (or read) was,
“You don’t sell enough with us. What is wrong with you?”
So here are a couple of thoughts for my supplier friends (and anyone in business).
1) It is NOT my responsibility to buy from you. It is your responsibility to earn my business. It is amazing how many suppliers are almost accusatory when they ask why we are not doing more business with them. I would never send an email to one of my clients telling them they are only doing $5,000 with my company. Call me crazy, but I might just say “thanks.”
2) It’s NOT what you say, but how you say it. Just like we have taught our children, the message is the same here. If he had asked, “You are a great customer, what can we do to serve you better and grow the business?” then I would not be venting now.
3) Say Thank You. I actually did a video about this from PPAI Vegas because one vendor stood out at their booth. How did they stand out? They spent a little time thinking us for our business. That’s it. Sounds simple. But they were the one that actually said it.
The thing is, if this was the only email, it would be no big deal. And let’s face it, as Bill Petrie pointed out in this Salt and Pepper column, sometimes Distributors in our industry ask for too much! I get it.
But this has happened to me several times. So here’s my two cents…if you want me to do more business with you, telling me I am not doing enough business with you now is NOT the way to make it happen.