Distributors and Suppliers…Do You Know What You are Missing?


Sometimes we just miss the obvious. We are SO busy doing what we are accustomed to doing we miss opportunities. Communication methods are changing SO fast we just can’t keep up with them. Many of us decide that we don’t have the time to learn anything new. What we have been doing has worked pretty well for the past several years…so why do anything different?

The question is…will what you have been doing to advertise and market your business for the past one year…five years…ten years, be effective one year, or 5 years from now? I WILL BE BOLD HERE AND SAY…ABSOLUTELY NOT! This applies to both distributors and suppliers.

I will continue to talk about change and our evolving marketplace. Listening to a radio show on emerging tech trends with Randi Zuckerberg (Yeah…Mark’s sister), I was blown away by how marketing and engagement are being done. The content discussed was WAY beyond anything our industry could understand, let alone embrace.

Not everything to generate business requires high-tech strategies. Sometimes it’s as simple as listening and asking the right questions.

My friends at Maple Ridge Farms do a good job providing tools that help distributors generate sales. They also consistently share useful content on relatable topics. Here is something Jodie Schillinger shared. It’s right on target and shows how we all will benefit from understanding the value of asking questions:

There are times in life where we stop, listen and hear that there is the opportunity to ask a question. However, if we are not taking the time to listen and watch, would we even know what question to ask?

The cavemen in the image above are busy doing what they always do. Their technique works for them, as it always has. In fact, in all honesty, they do not know anything different. So they continue and completely pass up an opportunity of a lifetime: The person with the product to change their world (literally)!

You see, the caveman carrying the wheels totally recognizes the opportunity for his product to be used; yet he is failing to engage in a relationship that would allow the wheels to be sold or given to the people that would greatly benefit from it. While there are many unspoken needs going on here, it is our job to engage and extract that information from our customers. In order for us to do this, we need to stop and ask those critical questions – questions that force us to stop, look, listen and take action.

This got me thinking about one of my favorite movies: Say Anything (1989)! Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack-the optimist) was determined to spend some time with the intelligent and gorgeous Diane Court (the Valedictorian). When Lloyd arrived at a party with Diane as his date, a friend asked him, “Lloyd, how did you get Diane Court to go out with you?” His iconic response was, “I called her up”. Any objection that Diane presented to Lloyd, he was able to help her overcome it until she realized that she needed what he had to offer. (He is an amazing relationship builder, because of this quality!)

Here’s a “Real World” Case Study: Before making an outbound call, I did a little Google-stalk and studied up on my customer’s website and did some Social Media listening. I proceeded to make the call, and when we got to talk, I kept hearing her say “this one client who buys food”. As we continued conversing, I reminded her that many of her clients are in the financial industry (one of the biggest buyers of food gifts).

By working with her, asking questions and listening, I was able to say…You know, I continue to hear you say “this is your only food client”; however, your customers are buying food…they are just not buying it from you. She laughed and understood that I listened and was there to help assist her in capturing the SWAG business, from the big-box retailers and increase her sales at the same time.

Watch for your cue, listen for the unknown obstacles your client may not know they need to overcome, craft the question and ask it.

Remember how powerful those well-crafted questions are! Go ahead, connect today and ask the critical questions that help your customers recognize the need for your services, product, relationship, and expertise.

These are challenging and exciting times in our industry. Let’s not forget about the basics…listening, communicating, asking questions...and not losing the opportunity for new business.

© 2015 Jeff Solomon, MAS


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