Have you thought about how you can improve the relationship with your wholesale customers?
Great relationships lead to long working partnerships and better revenue over time.
The best way to strengthen any relationship is by familiarity and that’s where catch-up calls come in.
Today I want to talk about conducting catch up calls with your wholesale customers including why you might want to do this, how to do it, and what you’re aiming to get out of it.
Remember Wholesale Customers Are Not Retail Customers
When you have run your e-commerce company for a while and you are past the initial glory days where you had time to talk to every single customer (or at least most of them) personally, it’s easy to start seeing those orders that come through as just a number and not a real person behind that order sheet.
But remember, wholesale customers are not retail customers.
It’s OK to talk to them.
Not only will you have less wholesale customers than retail customers, but they are the very customers that you should be talking to on a frequent basis.
You really should make it a priority to speak to them personally or have one of your staff responsible for catching up with your biggest and best customers.
The way to do this is with what I call a “Catch-up Call”.
Essentially it’s just you making time in your busy schedule each and every week to reach out and talk with your wholesale customers one-on-one.
The benefits of this are amazing but you have to be willing to do so in the first place to reap those benefits.
You Can Gain Insights You Can’t Get Over Email
Catch up calls let you gain insights you just can’t get over email.
There’s something about actually jumping on the phone with someone or, better yet, a video call that transcends communication methods like email and texting.
If it’s a video call, you get to not only hear their voice but you’ll also be able to read their body language. You can see the physical reaction to point you’re making or suggestions you are giving. You can see just how passionate they get.
For example, if when you start discussing a point they lean in and get more animated you know that means a lot to them.
If you can’t do a video call then the next best thing is to do a phone call.
You can still pick up a lot of unspoken information from their voice alone. You might not consciously know it but the human ear can pick up tiny pitch variations and infer meaning from them. It’s not something you need to try to do, it’s just part of who we are and how our brains work.
Email and other static communication methods leave these out and it can be detrimental to relationships. Catching up for a video call or a voice call can be very revealing.
Create Rapport, Strengthen Your Relationship
Seeing someone creates a shared experience which is a key part of creating rapport and building your relationship with someone.
Your customers will feel closer to you if you schedule frequent catch ups. This is a special and sacred time between you and this shared experience together is what strengthens the relationship more so than anything that is actually said in the call itself.
Catch-up calls give you a reason to create this shared experience and it’s something that the customer will remember you for.
Introduces A Feedback Loop
Nothing builds a business faster and better than a feedback loop.
Software developers like us use feedback loops all the time so it feels like second nature. We check in with customers, talk to them over support, make sure their needs are being met by the software, and make tweaks based on the feedback. There’s actually a whole philosophy surrounding the development of software in this way.
You can use this feedback loop process in your business as well.
Talk to your customers and get to know them. These conversations might lead to insights about your products, catching issues before they become something big and out of control, insights about their customers, your customer’s ordering habits and areas that you could improve your business to better serve them.
I touched briefly on insights about customers in the previous point, but let’s zoom in on this a bit.
As a wholesaler, the greatest insights into the market you work in are filtered through your customers. The only way you can gain an understanding of these insights is to catch up with your customers and find out what they know.
Your wholesale customers can give you information about the market you might not otherwise have known.
This, in turn, can lead to product discoveries, improvements in the way you present your products or services, better ways to sell and market your products, information about users of your products and much more.
Schedule Your Catch-Ups
I recommend that you should be talking to your wholesale customers at least quarterly.
I believe this kind of distance between catch-ups will give you a good frequent enough cadence going forward. It will also give them time to find and formulate any questions for you and for anything to bubble up to the surface that needs to be addressed.
The sweet spot is to keep your meetings far enough apart, but not so far that it feels unfamiliar.
What Should You Talk About?
Here are 5 sample points that you should cover in your meetings to ensure that you hit all the key issues and encourage some open dialogue about what you can be doing better and what they need to grow:
- They are ordering frequently and, if not, you can find out why
- Their needs are being met adequately
- Any potential admin issues are addressed
- If there are any questions about marketing your products in their stores better (ie. how to increase sales)
- If there are any new products they’re interested in (ie. that they’d like samples of in their next order)
I also suggest you open each meeting with a bit of light personal banter to set a casual, familiar tone for the call followed by a quick recap of what you discussed in the last meeting.
So are you ready to try it?
It might take a bit of time out of your schedule, but conducting catch-up calls with your wholesale customers can be hugely beneficial in the long-term.