The buyer supplier relationship is always a tricky one. Especially when it comes to deciphering how a specific buyer prefers to be communicated with. Essentially, every person is different and they want to be communicated with in different ways at different times. Talk about a moving target!
But that’s OK, we have some great tips for suppliers out there culled from experts attending this week’s BITAC F&B East at the amazing Grand Floridian Hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort.
BITAC is of course the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event. This week marks the 46th BITAC meeting, which attracted the F&B executive elite representing leading and forward thinking companies. And they’re all here to come together at BITAC to problem solve, network, sign deals and exchange ideas to move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests, while adding profits to the bottom line. There’s even time to cut loose, be social and network in a luxurious and relaxed environment.
At this year’s BITAC F&B East, our attendees made it clear that the pathway to a successful buyer-supplier relationship is one that has no set formula, but changes from person to person. People want to be communicated with in many different ways. But it is not just the method in which you communicate such as phone or email, but the message being delivered
As an industry buyer, Lisa Ghai, Manager, Hotel Purchasing with Royal Caribbean Cruises said suppliers need to think generationally. “There is a mix of generations and people want to be communicated to in ways that most appeal to them. So you have to tailor you approach to every customer,” Ghai explained.
Nick Bellini, VP Business Development with Sambonet USA/Rosenthal USA, said it’s critical to think of news ways to connect with buyers and sometimes the new ways harken back to earlier days.
“Emails are not the best way to communicate anymore because people are inundated with emails. To stand out you need to go back to the old school way and make phone calls,” said Bellini. And another old school tip; speak to that person’s assistant to find out when they will be behind their desk.
Ben McGill, National Accounts Manager, Steelite International America, said that for a quick response text is OK, but said to make the most impact when you get a chance to interact with a potential client you better know that company pretty well.
“I research all my customers deeply because you have to rethink about the way you are communicating and get them to understand you know their business,” said McGill. “You need to make sure they understand the benefits of your product too so that the buyer knows for sure they are not making a mistake with their company’s money.”
Ghai agrees. “There are suppliers that do not take the time to even visit our website. If you want to do business with me you should know about our brand, and understand the basic differences. I am happy to educate suppliers but they should have an understanding of our company.”
She also said there is no substitute for experiencing the product of the company a supplier is looking to sell too as a way to get a richer understanding of that company.
Another tip: Don’t sell on initial price, but the cost for the entire lifestyle of the product.
“I have seen a real progression of understanding the lifecycle of products by industry buyers and I find they are willing to spend more if we get more use out of the product. If suppliers can give us those numbers to offer to the budget team that helps make our case,” said Ghai.
Finally, training on the product must be emphasized as well once the sale is complete to ensure product use and likability is maximized.
“It is essential that we work with the buyer’s team to explain what it is and how important it is. Also, treat them as professionals and augment the knowledge that they have by teaching them about the product. Help them understand the value and how important it is to take care of them,” said Bellini.
McGill agreed, adding that you need to communicate, especially after product delivery.
“I am a firm believer the real sale starts after the product delivers. You should try to visit properties when in the vicinity to make sure the products are working for them,” said McGill noting that if something is wrong it’s more easily detected and therefore fixed.