Most of us remember what it felt like to start our first job and feeling a little like a fish out of water. We have also likely experienced nervousness when starting a new job later in our career for which some of our skills may have been rusty.
There are scenarios where a collaborative supplier can really add value and help lay a foundation for a long-term relationship. Here are a few tips for you to consider as you engage with junior staff members or with those who have taken on new responsibilities.
Establish the relationship. At the outset, ask them if there is any information you can provide to help them better understand your discipline, technology or service? Do you have a basic flyer that explains what you do and who you serve?
Provide a process flow document. Oftentimes, suppliers say they can be more effective if they were brought in earlier in the process. Do you have a document that easily explains the various steps of engagement? For example, if you are a blow molder, at what stages of development can/should the brand owner “enter” the relationship?
Offer tutorials. Do you have a white paper or an infographic that easily and quickly takes them through a specific technology step-by-step so that they can quickly ramp up their knowledge?
Deliver on-site training. Hold one or two-day classes at your facility once or twice a year. Reach out to your customers and ask if they would be interested in sending appropriate team members for an educational seminar in the areas you specialize in. Topics can range from polymer attributes to equipment technology to harnessing computer-aided design. Share knowledge so that your working relationship can reach its highest potential.
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Improve your listening skills. Entry level professionals sometimes don’t know, what they don’t know or if they do, are embarrassed to ask. Pay attention to conversations and ask if they would benefit from additional information if your gut tells you they might need some help.
Make introductions. You customer may need to bring in another vendor, but they don’t know where to go. You are likely to have connections with adjacent disciplines. Offer to make introductions/provide references if they can help attain mutual goals.
Know your audience. For example, millennials have different traits than baby boomers. The former excels at multitasking and is an expert with social media. Learn what communication style works best for each demographic.
Cultivate the human connection. If company policy allows, buy them lunch or a cup of coffee. Take the opportunity to know them beyond their company title. The truth is, we tend to do business with people we have a connection with. Don’t neglect to nurture that part of the relationship. It can mean the difference between success and failure.
Author: Thierry Fabozzi, president of PTI is responsible for the company’s global operations. Fabozzi has a 30-year track record of significant packaging technology and business development achievements. Before joining PTI, he held positions at Nestlé, Milacron and Tetra Pak.
PTI Global is recognized worldwide as a leading source for preform and package design, package development, rapid prototyping, pre-production prototyping, and material evaluation engineering for the plastic packaging industry. For more information: www.pti-usa.com.