Learning From Your Vendors

What makes a vendor more than just a vendor? This week’s trade show tactics article takes a look at why we choose one supplier over another, and how their support can turn your competitor’s customer into your loyal consumer.

Lesson #4 – Source From Those In The Know

New precious metal mixtures, diamond price fluctuations, supply trends, gem treatments, diamond enhancements……. and the beat goes on. The industry is in a constant state of flux when it comes to upstream issues. Your customers rely on you for advice, clarification and insight. You should be able to rely on your vendors for the same. For a well-rounded view on what’s happening in the market place, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact with your suppliers. If you’re attending a show, take the opportunity to ask your vendors for their view on market trends. What supply issues are your diamond vendors seeing and forecasting? Is it still hard to find melee? Where do they see the price of certain cuts/ sizes heading? Why have some categories jumped in price and others seen a downward tick? Make sure your vendors really understand and communicate what is going on in the market. After all, you’re not just buying their product, you’re also purchasing their knowledge and expertise.

Lesson #5 – Is It On Display?

Display, display, display. You invest significant time and money into ensuring you relate a targeted message to the consumer through presentation in your store. Do your vendors do the same for you? While working with a vendor, don’t just look at the product they have in the cases. Note how the vendor displays, groups and promotes the merchandise in their booths. Ask them why they have chosen to display items in a certain way. Are they using or promoting innovative marketing ideas? Do they have out-of-the-box display materials or concepts? Are they using, or can they provide memorable counter-top and window arrangements? Consider how their booth atmospherics impact how you relate to them and how it effects your purchasing decisions. Your consumers are no different. A trade-show is a great place to get design and display tips and trends. Again, see what your vendor is doing and take a walk among the aisles to see what display trends are predominant. From box designs to merchandising displays, it has to be seen to be discovered.

Lesson #6 – Strategies From The Sales Team

At the end of the day – it’s all about personal contact. Chances are that even if a vendor’s product meets all the needs of your ‘must have’ list, if you can’t interact or feel comfortable with the sales team, you’ll walk out of the booth without placing an order. Look, listen and learn during your own buying experience. What made you feel special, comfortable or confident about your purchasing decision? What didn’t? These emotions are universal and can be replicated and/or corrected in your own sales teams presentations.

However, note more than just the sales presentation. Is there a well-orchestrated interaction between the sales staff? Do they work as a team? Is there an alignment in the responsibilities and roles of owners and management? Take the time to really review why you choose one vendor over another. Whether consciously or unconsciously, your customers are doing the same when shopping with you and your competition. This could just be the tipping point that makes that customer choose you over them.

Next week’s Trade-Show Tactics article takes a look at the benefits of down-time. It shouldn’t be all back-to-back meetings, there’s money to be made and insight to be gained with some well-placed and well-choreographed ‘break-time’.

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