When You're the Secondary Provider

4 Things to Do When You’re Number Two

Scott Dieckgraefe Insight

When a manufacturer or service provider is named as the “preferred provider,” life is good. Such relationships can remove a lot of the costs of the sales function. Service levels often flourish, and without competitive bidding situations, margins are typically healthier for preferred providers.

But the pandemic enlightened many B2B companies about the tenuous nature of the supply chain. Those manufacturers who embraced multiple-provider sourcing prior to the pandemic were best suited for the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.

Those who relied on single sources – especially sources that faltered – found themselves at the mercy of the marketplace. The post-pandemic reality is that multi-provider sourcing will become the norm.

While all companies would rather play a preferred provider role, there are several things a secondary provider should do to grow their relationship:

  1. Use owned content to stay on the customer’s radar.

Regularly published e-newsletters, blog posts, blast emails and videos are tactics that keep your brand in front of the customer while proving your acumen and heralding your unique brand attributes. Plus, these tactics will increase your online presence when the customers turn to the internet for research.

2. Create reasons for a sales call.

Salespeople find new energy and purpose with a reason to personally contact the customer beyond simply “checking in.” This includes informing the customer about limited time offers, new products, new services and new hires who will add value to future transactions.

3. Make the most of your limited opportunities.

On the occasion your company earns a project with the customer, make the most of the opportunity. Put your best team members on the project and offer a premium level of service. A personal circle back or thank you from your company’s president or executives after the project will go a long way, too.

4. Stay apprised on what’s happening with #1.

Short of shady industrial espionage, competitor recon is fair play and critical to your company’s future. Look for disruptions in their service that may present opportunities for you, including lapses in their supply chains or changes in key personnel.

If you’re already a preferred provider, stay on your game – others are gunning for your position. If you’re a secondary provider, heed these tips to grow into a primary role. And if you’re neither, it’s often a good strategy to get your foot in the door as a secondary provider, then grow your position. Gaining a portion of a client’s business – with a game plan and an opportunity to grow into a preferred role – is significantly better than failing to capture any business.

Studio/D is a full-service marketing communications firm working with mid-market industrial and manufacturing clients, together with companies that support the manufacturing ecosystem. We’re a team of “makers” who simplify complex communication challenges with messaging that engages and drives results. Learn more about us at StudioD.agency, or call our president, Scott Dieckgraefe at 314-200-2630.