How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier

Becoming an authorized vendor or supplier for an established company is a great way to grow your own retail business.

You get access to proven products that already have brand recognition and loyal customers.

However, getting approved as a new supplier can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. In this article, we’ll learn “How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier”.

I’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step, from initial research all the way through building a lasting partnership as an official distributor or reseller

Whether you want to become a wholesale supplier or simply dropship products directly to consumers, my goal is to provide actionable advice that helps increase your chances of success.

Here’s what I’ll cover:

  • The different types of supplier relationships you can establish
  • Exactly what companies look for in new vendors
  • How to create a stand-out supplier application
  • Proven ways to initially contact and follow up with manufacturers
  • Negotiating supplier terms like minimum orders and payment options
  • Onboarding requirements and processes
  • Managing the ongoing partnership once approved
  • Mistakes to avoid as a new distributor or reseller

With the right strategy, there’s no reason you can’t become an authorized vendor and take your business to the next level. 

Let’s get started.

How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier

How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier – At a Glance

  • First decide which supplier relationship model – wholesale, retail, dropshipping, etc.
  • Thoroughly research the requirements and qualifications needed for approval.
  • Build a polished application highlighting your capabilities and achievements.
  • Persistently contact the company through emails, calls, and networking.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate terms and contracts that support your business.
  • Complete all onboarding tasks and processes to get started.
  • Manage the relationship long-term through communication and consistently adding value.
  • Avoid common mistakes like overpromising, ignoring issues, and competing purely on price.
  • Becoming an authorized partner takes work but opens up tremendous potential.

The key is carefully

  • targeting the right potential suppliers,
  • showcasing your differentiators,
  • providing massive value, and
  • nurturing positive long-term relationships that fuel business growth.

Decide on the Type of Supplier Relationship You Want

The first step is determining what kind of supplier arrangement makes the most sense for your business goals and the company you want to work with. There are a few common types of relationships:

Supplier

Distributor

  • Similar to a supplier but typically covers a larger geographical territory
  • May get exclusive rights to sell in a certain region

Wholesaler

  • Buys large quantities from manufacturers at discounted pricing
  • Sells smaller quantities to retailers at a slightly marked-up price

Reseller

  • Purchases finished products and resell them unchanged
  • May specialize in certain markets like online retail

Dropshipping

  • Retail products from a wholesale supplier who handles fulfillment
  • Products ship directly from the supplier’s warehouse to customers

Retailer

  • Purchases goods from any of the above to sell directly to consumers

Each arrangement has its own pros and cons. For example, being a distributor gives you more exclusivity but also requires more infrastructure and overhead. Dropshipping has lower risk but thinner margins.

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Think about your business’s size, e-commerce capabilities, target customers, and growth plans. This will help determine what role as a vendor makes the most strategic sense right now.

Start narrow by focusing on one supplier relationship until you build experience. Over time you can diversify your vendor sources and deepen those partnerships.

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Understand Supplier Requirements and Qualifications

Once you’ve decided on the ideal supplier relationship for your business, the next step is researching what it takes to qualify. Every company will have its own specific criteria, but there are some common requirements you should expect.

Do Your Research

Before reaching out, learn as much as you can about the company and its industry. This shows them you have a genuine interest and knowledge of their products and brand values.

  • Review their website thoroughly
  • Check for any press releases or news articles
  • Follow their social media to understand their voice
  • Look for insights on review sites like Trustpilot

This will help you speak intelligently about why you want to become one of their vendors.

Typical Supplier Criteria

While each business differs, most will evaluate potential vendors based on:

  • Years of business and industry experience
  • Existing sales volumes and revenue
  • Marketing strategy and channels
  • Ability to meet minimum order quantities
  • Culture fit and brand image

The more you can showcase these areas in your application, the better. Highlight your expertise, sales track record, and how you’ll represent their brand well through marketing.

Contracts and Legal Considerations

Suppliers are typically required to sign agreements that outline:

  • Pricing policies like MAP (Minimum Advertised Price)
  • Ordering processes and return policies
  • Territory restrictions or exclusivity clauses
  • Insurance and liability requirements
  • Brand representation guidelines

Review these closely and negotiate if certain terms don’t work for your business model. Consulting a lawyer can help ensure you understand any legalese.

Meeting the requirements on paper is just the first step. You also need to convince them you’ll be a valuable partner that can increase sales of their products.

Build Your Vendor Application

Now that you understand the typical vendor requirements, it’s time to put together a compelling application that secures your approval as a supplier. Treat this as seriously as a job application – your goal is to showcase why you’re the ideal partner.

Include These Documents

At a minimum, you’ll need to provide:

  • Business license and tax IDs
  • Previous sales tax certificates
  • Insurance certificates if required
  • Past sales data and revenue references

Having these official credentials in order shows professionalism and reliability.

Write a Convincing Profile

Draft a formal cover letter that summarizes:

  • Years in business and team background
  • Current revenue and sales volumes
  • Number of customers you serve
  • Your marketing reach across channels
  • Why you want to become a distributor

The more you can quantify your assets and abilities, the better. Share relevant achievements and results.

Provide References and Testimonials

Social proof goes a long way. Collect positive reviews and referrals from current partners, customers, or brands you work with. Anything that vouches for your reputation.

Submit Detailed Forecasts and Plans

To secure exclusivity rights, you may need to provide order quantity forecasts, territory coverage plans, and multi-channel marketing strategies. Convince them you can hit the ground running. The more value you propose to create, the better your chances.

With a polished application highlighting your qualifications, you’ll look like a top-tier vendor candidate.

Contact the Company and Follow Up

You’ve assembled a stellar vendor application – now it’s go time. First contact is critical, so make sure your outreach is professional and compelling.

Send an Introduction Email

Briefly introduce yourself, and your business, and share your intent to become an authorized distributor. Mention you have submitted a complete supplier application and are excited about the opportunity.

Include a contact number and ask who the best person is to speak with about partnership opportunities. This shows initiative to get the ball rolling.

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Make a Phone Call

Email is easily ignored – have a real conversation to create rapport. Briefly explain why you want to carry their products. Show enthusiasm about helping each other grow.

Ask what the next steps are for getting approved as a vendor. See if they have any initial questions on your capabilities.

Be Persistent with Follow-up

Don’t take initial rejections personally. Follow up regularly with new sales data, customer reviews, or expanded marketing plans.

Send email reminders if calls aren’t returned. Try contacting different people in the company through LinkedIn outreach.

If they see you’re serious about the partnership, many will eventually take a second look.

Provide References and Testimonials

Having current partners and brands vouch for you goes a long way. See if any mutual connections can put you in touch with the right decision-maker.

Leverage your network and persistence to get past the gatekeeper. With consistent nurturing, you can turn a “no” into a “yes”.

Negotiate Supplier Terms and Onboarding

After being approved as an authorized vendor, now it’s time to work out the specifics of the partnership and onboarding.

Negotiate Terms

Review the supplier agreement closely. Don’t be afraid to negotiate better conditions like:

  • Improved pricing or discounts
  • Faster payment terms
  • Lower minimum order quantities
  • Exclusive distribution rights in your region
  • Cooperative marketing dollars

Come prepared with sales forecasts, marketing spending, and what you need to scale aggressively. Quantify the value you’ll provide.

Understand the Contract

Before signing any binding supplier contract, ensure:

  • You can abide by MAP policies
  • Required systems/software integrated with yours
  • The agreement allows you to terminate if needed
  • There’s a process for resolving conflicts

Consult a lawyer to explain legalese and negotiate favorable terms.

Complete Onboarding Requirements

There may be training programs, technology integrations, and account setup required.

  • Schedule product knowledge training sessions
  • Install any required software, inventory, or ordering platforms
  • Provide company logos, bios, and assets as needed
  • Outline launch plans and rollout strategies

Place Initial Trial Orders

Start with small test orders to understand their systems, and material costs, and confirm the partnership is a fit.

Provide feedback on what works well and any suggested improvements. Cultivate a collaborative dynamic from the start.

With a mutually beneficial agreement and smooth onboarding, you’re on your way to a profitable long-term vendor relationship.

Manage the Ongoing Supplier Relationship

Becoming an approved vendor is just the beginning. Maintaining a productive long-term partnership requires ongoing communication and collaboration.

Have Regular Check-Ins

Set up quarterly business reviews to discuss results, new opportunities, and potential issues. Ask for feedback on how you can provide more value.

Share your product roadmaps, peak seasons, and marketing calendar to align. Transparency helps the relationship.

Resolve Any Conflicts Quickly

Problems and misunderstandings are inevitable – address them head-on through open dialogue. Don’t let frustrations fester.

Renegotiate terms if certain requirements become unrealistic. Compromise where possible to preserve the relationship.

Give Feedback for Improvement

They want to hear how their onboarding, support, or systems can improve. Your insights as a partner are valuable.

Provide regular product reviews and suggestions to help drive innovation and refinement.

Keep Looking for Value-Add

How can you expand to new locations or channels? Are there complementary vendor relationships you can make introductions to?

Bring new partnership ideas, process optimizations, and growth initiatives to the table. Evolve together.

By continually strengthening alignment through proactive communication, your supplier relationship will thrive for the long haul.

Mistakes to Avoid as a New Supplier

Becoming an approved vendor opens up tremendous opportunities, but there are some crucial mistakes to avoid in order to build a lasting partnership:

  • Don’t let orders and deliveries slip through the cracks – be known for consistent reliability.
  • Avoid refusing reasonable special requests when possible. Look for ways to say yes.
  • Don’t just compete on price and erode margins over time – emphasize value.
  • Be careful not to overpromise on sales forecasts and underdeliver – be conservative but hit goals.
  • Refrain from making unauthorized claims about exclusivity rights or offerings.
  • Never sell products through unauthorized channels – protect their brand integrity.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions early on if you are unsure about processes. There are no dumb questions.
  • Avoid venting frustrations publicly or through emotional outbursts. Address issues professionally.
  • Don’t take advantage of supplier terms by placing unreasonably large orders you can’t sell quickly.
  • Never stop looking for ways to strengthen the partnership and bring more value as a vendor.
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Avoiding these missteps will help you build a reputation as an ideal partner known for integrity, performance, and mutual benefit. Those trustworthy relationships are sustained over the long haul.

Conclusion – How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier

Becoming an authorized supplier or vendor opens up huge opportunities to grow your business, but it requires dedication and preparation to get approved by the right partners.

The process we’ve covered equips you to strategically approach potential brand relationships, convince them of your value, and formalize partnerships that give you access to great products, higher margins, and new markets.

  • By carefully choosing your ideal supplier role,
  • deeply understanding their requirements,
  • meticulously building your application,
  • persistently nurturing the relationship,
  • negotiating favorable terms, and
  • proactively managing the partnership long-term, you set yourself up for success.

Keep in mind it takes significant effort to not just get approved but to continue delivering value that makes you an indispensable vendor. This creates profitable relationships that have compounded over the years.

Use the tips in this guide to confidently evaluate new partnership potential, highlight your differentiators, and convince suppliers you are the ideal distributor or reseller for their brand.

Let’s finish by answering some usual questions about How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier.”

FAQs – How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier

How do I find potential supplier companies to apply to?

  • Attend trade shows and industry events to network and discover new brands.
  • Search manufacturer and distributor directories online for your product categories.
  • Ask existing suppliers for introductions to complementary brands.
  • Look at competitors you admire and research who they partner with.

What steps can I take to improve my chances of getting approved?

  • Have a well-designed website that builds credibility for your business.
  • Gather solid references and testimonials from current partners and brands.
  • Start small by applying to suppliers that have lower barriers to entry.
  • Be willing to accept small initial order minimums.
  • Highlight marketing initiatives and connections that will drive sales.

What are the typical payment terms to expect as a new supplier?

  • Net 30 (paying 30 days after invoice) is common when starting out.
  • Larger distributors may negotiate Net 60 or Net 90 terms over time.
  • Avoid suppliers insisting on upfront payments until building more trust.
  • Make sure you can afford inventory costs before negotiating longer payment terms.

Should I hire a lawyer to review supplier contracts?

  • For small standard agreements, you may not need a lawyer review.
  • But for complex, lengthy contracts, getting legal advice is wise.
  • A lawyer can explain terminology and ensure favorable terms.
  • Legal review is recommended before signing any exclusivity agreements.

What steps can I take if a supplier stops responding to my application?

  • Politely follow up via email or phone every 2 weeks to restate your interest.
  • Try contacting different people in the company through LinkedIn outreach.
  • Offer to provide any additional information needed to move forward.
  • Ask existing partners to introduce you or put in a good word.
  • Ultimately, persistently demonstrate you would provide immense value as a distributor.

That concludes the article How to Approach a Company to Become a Supplier“. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for visiting.

Hello, I’m Samuel, and I’ve been in the dropshipping business for the past 9 years. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of helping many novice dropshippers grow their businesses. Based on my experience, I’ve launched this blog to share my insights and knowledge with the dropshipper community.

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