Here’s how one supplier made sure I kept my business with them
A little while ago I was asked to review the cover printing contract for a magazine publisher. There was no doubt that the current supplier was very competent. They had a long track record of producing the work well. But their services came at a steep price.
I was able to source some alternative supply options that would have created significant savings. However, the current supplier retained their work. There was a simple reason for this: many people at the publisher felt that the current supplier was irreplaceable. That was because the printer had built a very loyal client network.
What is a client network?
It is simply the network of contacts that you have at any one client. Many sales people rely on just one contact per client. That can be dangerous. If that contact leaves for any reason, the relationships can be jeopardized. A new contact may not value the current relationship. They may have their own suppliers that they are loyal to.
Therefore, it is worth making as many contacts in a company as possible. You will often find that if you build a network of champions who are loyal to you, it becomes much more difficult to move your work (as I found out at the magazine publisher!).
Who should be in your client network?
Naturally, this depends on the type of company you are working with. However, here are some ideas:
- Whoever chooses which supplier to use
- The people who place the orders
- Members of the marketing team
- Anyone involved in accepting deliveries
- Someone from the accounts department
A good client network will help you grow an account. Firstly, your champions will be happy to introduce you to new contacts at the company. You have an opportunity to meet other people who are also responsible for placing print.
Just as importantly, your contacts will often be happy to talk to you about what is happening within their business. You will be well-placed to learn about any future jobs that are being planned. You may also learn about planned events and programs that could drive more print, or other opportunities where you could provide value. This will help you to make informed suggestions to your purchasing contact.
So how do you put the idea of a client network into practice?
Firstly, highlight your key clients. These are the ones you should prioritize in developing a client network, as you already have a strong foundational relationship built. Ask for a meeting at these clients.
At the meeting, ask if you can either walk around the offices or meet with specific people such as designers. Follow up a meeting with a new contact by dropping them a note thanking them for the meeting and offering them further help.
With these simple steps, you are well on the way to developing a strong network at your client’s business. The client network at the magazine publisher ensured their current supplier retained the work. One day, your client network may be just as effective in helping you.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on how to upsell:
- Can a Client Network Lead to Upsell Opportunities?
- Can Proactive Selling Lead to Upsell Opportunities?
- Upselling Current Clients with Upgrade Options
- Using Customer Surveys to Enable Upselling
P.S. If you’d like more ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them.” You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.