If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve been there:
You spent 20 minutes crafting an email to your first ever supplier. You made sure every word was right, and you included all the info you thought they needed. And then…
They never respond to you. What’s the deal?
Why Suppliers Aren’t Responding to Your Emails
Suppliers are very busy people or at least like to think they are, so you should treat them as such!
One big reason suppliers don’t respond to your emails is due to the sheer volume of inquiries they get on a daily basis — many of which aren’t serious. Your email may be too vague; if so, they probably need more details (which I’ll cover in the next section).
Additionally, the supplier may not be convinced of your investment in your business. Anyone can send an email. Fewer people take the time to make a follow-up call or visit a sourcing fair.
It’s also possible they’re not as organized as they should be and your email simply got lost.
Some other factors to consider include:
- Don’t forget to factor in time zone differences. You can use a tool like the Time Zone Converter to figure out their time zone.
- Many suppliers prefer face-to-face talk (or at least a phone call).
- It’s possible the company no longer makes the product you’re asking about.
- The quantity you’re ordering may be too small for supplier interest.
How to Fix It: Getting Suppliers to Reply to Your Emails
So now you know a few reasons a supplier may not have answered your email. Understand the supplier likely deals with a lot of spam inquiries, so give them the benefit of the doubt and try again!
There are plenty of ways you can improve your chances of getting a response:
Outline Detailed Product & Order Requirements
First things first, make sure you ask for every piece of information you need. By showing them you know about the product and the product market, you’ll stand out in a supplier’s inbox and show that you will be a serious client.
Product requirements include:
- The exact product specs required.
- The item number, if appropriate.
- The exact quantity you need.
- The country you’re shipping to.
- A specific timeline of when you plan on ordering.
- Any certification requirements.
- The shipping terms you require (FOB, CIF, etc.).
The more details you can provide, the less email “back-and-forth” you’ll have to deal with — which makes things easier for you and your supplier, and increases the chances they’ll respond.
Show that you mean business.
This means using proper spelling and grammar, doing your research before you reach out to suppliers, and showing them that you know what you're talking about.
Featured Resource: If you need help drafting a great email, SaleHoo provides its customers with free templates that cover every kind of email you might need to send.
Of course, it’s OK to not know every last detail of your desired product or its market. A good supplier will help you learn more about it. Just be aware that if you come off as someone who wants free training and will take up a lot of the supplier's time, they’re less likely to answer you.
Additionally, if you come off as a knowledgeable professional, suppliers are more likely to quote you a lower price. On the flip side, if you sound like a newbie, they’ll quote you a higher price.
Do your research!
Be Someone You Would Want to Do Business With
This is a simple, but important, concept. If you take one thing away from this article, take this:
Be someone you would want to work with.
- Show you’re ready to buy now, and aren’t just “thinking about it.” You can convey this message simply by following the previous steps and literally excluding the phrase “I’m thinking about XYZ” from your emails.
- Have the capital to at least meet MOQs. If you can’t order their minimum order quantity, they’re less likely to take you seriously. That said, some suppliers only list this number to weed out the small fish and actually are willing to go below it if they think you’re a serious contender.
- Seem like someone who will be a repeat customer. Again, you can convey this by approaching the supplier professionally and knowing your stuff.
- Approach the supplier as a business, rather than as an individual. Use wording like, “My name is [your name] and I’m the product manager of [your company/website].”
- Have a professional website (or at least a business email). If you’re sending from an email like “firstname.lastname@example.org,” suppliers won’t take you seriously. Buy a domain for $12 and get an email like “email@example.com.” If you really want to take it to the next level, create a professional website. You can do so using SaleHoo’s store builder if you’re ready for that step.
- Provide a company intro. A couple of lines about your business and your previous work with suppliers (if you have any) make a big difference, because a new supplier typically means a low repeat customer potential.
Give the Supplier a Follow-Up Phone Call
Finally, don’t be afraid to get on the phone and tell a supplier that you just sent an email. Not only will this make you appear more professional, it also gives you the opportunity to see how well the supplier knows their stuff and decide whether they are a good fit for you.
Remember: Your supplier is basically your business partner. If they screw up, it’s on you to fix the problem for your customers, so choose wisely.
Before you call a supplier, be prepared with a few questions. A few well-chosen queries will not only signal to the supplier that you know what you're doing, but being prepared will also help reduce the nerves from making a call, especially if you’ve never done so before.
Some questions you can ask include:
- What are your payment terms and are they negotiable?
- What are your return policies?
- Under what circumstance might prices change?
- When do I take ownership of the product?
- What happens if materials don't arrive?
For more questions and details about each question, take a look at this forum post on our forum.
If you follow the steps outlined above and keep in mind the golden rule (being someone you’d want to work with), suppliers will be much more likely to answer your emails and even quote you lower rates.
If you have any questions or extra tips to help get a better response rate from suppliers, leave them in the comments below! I love hearing from my readers, and I’m always here to help.
Also, don’t forget that SaleHoo customers have access to different templates you can use when contacting suppliers in the SaleHoo directory, which already include most of the crucial details.
Good luck, and happy selling!