How to Make Sure Potential Suppliers Respond to Your Inquiries

Have you had the experience of reaching out to a factory for pricing or more info, and never receiving a response? If so, you could be making these common ‘rookie’ mistakes.

A lack of supplier responsiveness is one of the most common complaints I hear from people who are just getting started on their production journey. They can’t understand why anyone would ignore the possibility of new business! But since suppliers are often inundated with inquiries from new start-ups and designers (few of which result in actual orders), they may simply be too busy – or too selective – to get back to you quickly.

So how do you make sure you stand out? Understanding what moves your email or phone to call to the bottom of the priority list is the best place to start!

Here are 5 of the most common ‘rookie’ mistakes new buyers make when reaching out to potential suppliers:

Sharing your life story in the first e-mail. Keep information about your background, why you’re making the product, the business’s mission, and your future plans to a minimum. It’s best to focus on what suppliers care about: the specifications of what you’re trying to source. That said, if you have an order from a large client, or have recently been invested in, it may be worthwhile to share these ‘wins’ to communicate your track record. Just be sure that all communications are clear and concise.

Creating too much work for the supplier. Requests for very complicated quotes, such as pricing at too many different quantity intervals, or cost comparisons with a variety of material options, are burdensome for factories to prepare. Especially when it’s not guaranteed an order will result! Stick to asking for what you absolutely need, and consider a simple quote to gauge compatibility before going into more detailed price talks.

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Asking for a quote under the supplier’s minimum order requirement. If a supplier’s minimum order requirement is not listed on their website, it’s worth calling or sending a simple e-mail dedicated to this question prior to asking for a quote. Requesting pricing for 50 pieces when a factory requires 500 or more pieces per style is a pretty sure way to ensure that you won’t hear from them!

Reaching out before you’re ready. In order to provide accurate costs, a supplier is going to need certain information about your product, formatted in a way that they can easily understand. This includes detailed renderings or photos of the item(s), CAD drawings, spec sheets or tech packs, and physical samples. If you are at the beginning phases of your business and have not formalized your designs with any of these technical pieces, it’s probably best that you wait to contact suppliers until they are in place.

Being overly concerned with intellectual property. It’s true that there are a ton of knock-offs happening out there, but people have a tendency to overestimate the number of other people who actually want to steal their idea! The reality is that no matter how nervous it makes you, you’re going to have to part with certain details about your product in order to get accurate cost estimates. Being intentionally vague or using language that implies you don’t trust a supply partner can be seen as an amateur move. Likewise, requiring them to fish for the information they need moves you down on the priority list of potential customers. Experts do their research on a vendor’s reputation before even reaching out, provide a simple Non-Disclosure Agreement to potential supply partners, and take necessary legal precautions such as trademarks and patents.

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