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How to Get Large Companies to Shop Small

How can your small shop get orders from big businesses? We’ve got advice on encouraging large organizations to work with smaller suppliers.

By William Krueger
 3 min read
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Adding larger companies to your book of business is a solid growth strategy. How can you get and keep their attention? The key, according to Naseem Khan, vice president of Prestige Screen Printing, Inc., in Derwood, Md., is changing your mindset. “It’s not about what you want to sell,” he says. “You have to go in saying, we see you have this problem and we’ve got a solution for it.” When you shift from selling to problem-solving, you’re more likely to get prospects’ attention because your pitch appeals to the things that matter most to them, such as:

  • Reliability & Trust: Some bigger firms may be slow to trust a small shop. A mix of quantitative and qualitative information can make the case. Share your business interruption and holiday closure plans, and show data on uptime and delivery performance. Use customer testimonials and references for additional context.
  • Streamlined Processes: Time is money. Can you show how you can reduce cycle times or decrease administrative load? Reducing the number of stops a product has to make before reaching the customer is almost always a win. Case studies and infographics are useful here.
  • Quality: Poor quality wastes money, can lead to costly fines, and may drive customers to do business elsewhere. Know your quality metrics -- % of rejects, returns, waste – and compare them against industry averages to establish your chops. Customer testimonials can be helpful here, too.

 What about price, you may be asking. Let’s be honest, competing on price is usually a race to the bottom. It potentially jeopardizes margins and the field is often crowded with others trying to get in the door. The more strategic approach of problem-solving yields more sustainable results with less risk.

Get more advice to drive sales for your machine shop.

What's Trending?

Emerging trends create another “problem” you may be able to “solve.” A lot of bigger companies are struggling to respond to current events and changing consumer sentiments. Here are two trends you may be able to capitalize on:

Supplier Diversification:

Some bigger companies have set goals for diversifying their vendor pools but don’t have an existing pipeline of historically under-represented firms to call upon. If you meet the requirements and you’re proactive, you can help them achieve that goal. Learn more about supplier diversity.

Supply Chain Localization:

The staggering supply disruption from COVID-19 closures forced large manufacturers to reconsider the companies, processes, data and resources required to deliver their product to market. “We’re starting to understand that we can manufacture things here – even in times of non-crisis,” notes Katy Stanton, director of programming and operations for the Urban Manufacturing Alliance. “You can use this moment that’s punishing to so many small businesses to understand the supply chain so for the next crisis we’re better able to respond.”

When big companies shop small, it’s a win for both of you. Start building out your outreach strategy today.

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William Krueger
As a digital marketing specialist, William works with all forms of media from photography and video to content writing and graphic design to tell the story of American manufacturing. He holds a B.A. in Communication from Wittenberg University.

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