A young woman walks beween shelves in a small warehouse while making notes on a clipboard. The shelves are packed with cardboard boxes. The woman has long brown hair tied in a braid, and she wears glasses, a light brown turtleneck sweater, and olive green overalls.
Businesses are increasingly interested in establishing supply chains closer to home. Working with local distributors can lead to a partnership with a large business. — Getty Images/Bevan Goldswain

Becoming a supplier for a big company can change the trajectory of your business dramatically. Securing these supplier contracts in a highly competitive market takes research, preparation, and improving your marketability to prove your small business can meet the needs of a larger organization.

Here are six tips to help your business stand out against the competition and become a supplier for a large business.

Conduct research on your ideal partners

It’s essential to conduct thorough research before going after supplier contracts with any business. Familiarize yourself with the corporation’s website, make sure your business cultures align, and identify the company’s specific needs.

If the company has a supplier checklist, ensure you meet the qualifications outlined before reaching out to the company. Find out what the company’s pain points are and offer tailored solutions to demonstrate your capabilities. You should also research the company’s history and reputation to gauge their compatibility and avoid any negative associations.

[Read more: 3 Scaling Startups Each Share Their Playbook for B2B Growth]

Improve your response time

Being prompt and thorough when it comes to responding to leads is crucial for B2B sales success. A study published by Harvard Business Review reported businesses that take 42 hours to respond are too slow, while those responding within five minutes have eight times higher conversion rates. However, on average, it takes companies a little over 14 hours to respond to leads.

Here are a few ways to make a positive first impression with big businesses:

  • Send follow-up emails summarizing phone discussions.
  • Address all questions and concerns.
  • Anticipate additional queries.
  • Proofread for accuracy and professionalism.
  • Consider offering an online resource library.

Your response reflects how you conduct business, so strive to be quick, comprehensive, and attentive to gain a unique competitive edge.

Invest in technology

Using outdated technology and systems puts your business at risk of larger companies overlooking you. Today’s buyers expect their suppliers to operate at maximum efficiency and provide real-time data, so falling behind in technology and data analytics may mean losing out on top contracts.

To stay competitive as a small business, you should embrace and invest in modern technology and prioritize data analytics to meet your buyer’s expectations. Automation enhances efficiency and reduces errors, while accurate data collection enables real-time monitoring to identify bottlenecks.

[Read more: 10 Tech Tools To Scale Your Business]

If the company has a supplier checklist, ensure you meet the qualifications outlined before reaching out to the company.

Increase your digital marketing strategies

Many buyers and sellers prefer remote engagement and digital self-service. This shift emphasizes the importance of digital marketing for businesses that want to become suppliers for larger corporations.

Establish a strong online presence with a user-friendly web design, SEO best practices, content marketing through emails and blogs, and up-to-date social media accounts. Companies lacking an online presence may struggle to compete and could be putting themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to big contracts.

Assemble a supply chain with local partners

Since the pandemic, there has been an increased interest in local sourcing as a solution to supply chain challenges. Both consumers and businesses are prioritizing local suppliers for flexibility, control, community support, environmental impact, reduced costs, and improved communication.

Building a sustainable and close-to-home supply chain with reputable partners enhances your business’s appeal as a supplier for bigger companies. To establish strong partnerships, understand your customers’ needs and identify compatible suppliers for your own business. By offering a range of products or services, you increase your chances of becoming a preferred supplier.

[Read more: How This Organic Skin Care Product Business Navigated Supply Chain Challenges]

Provide as much information about your business and product as possible

When responding to a quote request, you should provide as much information as you can about your business. Potential buyers are looking for manufacturers with better turnaround times and transparency in product availability, particularly for materials in high demand. Focus on the perks of partnering with your business, such as high on-time delivery rates, zero returns, or little to no internal downtime.

Documenting and discussing service history, establishing certain expectations and key performance indicators, providing detailed product images and samples, and highlighting corporate social responsibility efforts can also go a long way in establishing trust and transparency between your business and a prospective buyer. Ensure you create a strong, unique selling proposition to differentiate your business from competitors and communicate the unique benefits and solutions you can provide.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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