Know Your Customers: Institutional Buyers

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 4.46.56 PMAs a retailer, you have many different kinds of customers that come through your door – or to your website.

 

Here are five things to keep in mind when your customer is an institution like a hospital, church or non-profit:

  1. Be patient. I cannot move quickly.  There are rules and processes in place to govern nearly every business decision.  Even if you are the best supplier, I may not be able to move fast.  Understand that my hands are tied and you may have to wait for approvals.  But realize that once you are an approved vendor, you will be rewarded with my business.
  2. Help me think things through.  I need to stretch every dollar I spend so unexpected charges are a nightmare.  If we can be thorough and creative by developing an everyday low price program that guarantees each purchase is as cost-effective as possible, you can win my business.
  3. Know that decision-makers change.  Even once you have my business, it is a good idea to keep educating our leadership team on why you are still our best resource.  Our directors and managers change often and the airtight pitch you gave last year may be completely new to our leadership this year. Keep educating us.
  4. Align to our mission.  Nearly as important as keeping our cost down is partnership with like-minded organizations.  Help us fundraise, market or donate to our causes.  We need support beyond a reliable supply chain.
  5. Be a trusted expert.  We have so many other things to do beyond purchasing products.  Tell us what we need to know (the good and the bad) in a straight forward fashion to help us weed through the details and get to the essential.  Help us use common sense to make good decisions and so we can focus on our mission.

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