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Looks Like Only One Supplier Understands What We Want

By Sid Chadwick – 06/07/19 Published in American Printer

“It is not enough to be busy…..The question is: what are we busy about?”…………Henry David Thoreau


Recent columns focused on understanding better what individual customers want from their suppliers…and how to escape being a “Commodity Supplier” — winning on Price.

Here’s one approach in which I would use “Customer-specific” and “Buyer-specific” – information — in my Quoting Process.

Have you ever had the opportunity to notice how most suppliers Quote Letters — look very similar?

Traditional Quote Letter:

Quote Recipient: (From Commodity Supplier – including date, Customer’s name, Buyer, Quote No., etc.)

Dear Ms. Smith:

Project Name and Specifications Specs



Price:  $$$$                                        

Non-Traditional Quote Letter:

Quote Recipient: (From Non-Commodity Supplier, incl. date, Customer’s name, Buyer, Quote No. etc.)

Dear Ms. Smith:

We understand the following issues to be important to you and your organization — for this project:

  1. You would like to receive an email in advance of receiving the Proof, notifying you when to expect the Proof for this project. (This serves you and us — for coordinating the Proof review, and a speedy Proof return.)

  2. You would like to receive an email in advance of Delivery, notifying you when to expect Delivery, with Delivery – preferably before 3:00 pm.

  3. You would like our Invoice to reference your P.O. and to not contain additional charges without prior notice, that you approve, in writing.

Project Name and Specifications Specs



Price: $$$$                                         

knowledge into action

I ask you when putting theses two Quote Letters side-by-side, which one grabs your attention, and which one elicits the generally unknown Dept. Director's comment to the Buyer, "Looks like only one supplier understands what we want....!"

I’ll never forget the doubting Sales Rep who, hesitatingly — used this process with a major jewelry chain Buyer. She called him the next day, asking what the new, additional information on his Quote — was about. He explained that he was trying to gather more and better information, and those new items on his Quote Letter were part of what he’d learned about what she really wanted — in addition to the project’s specifications.

Her Response:   “Well………those items caused me to think of two more I’d not told you….and I’m writing those two on the P.O. I’m sending you.”


How well we gather and use Customer information (and especially Buyer-specific information) — determines what we accomplish.

Every customer has biases, grievances from insensitive suppliers —  and nuances — about how they want things done……….and not done.

Only a few smart Suppliers, working to overcome “Low Price Wins” — puts those principles into day-to-day communications practice — supported by their Customer Profiles — of information gathering.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do….in order that I may learn to do it.”…………..……Pablo Picasso

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