A Dark Horse Emerges in the Gloomy Chip Market ! The Sales Champion Shared Insights on How to Build Trust with CEO-level Customers
In this edition of the "Chip Talk" column, we are pleased to introduce an all-around salesperson – Jessica. Despite the downturn in the chip market this year, she has repeatedly winning the monthly sales crown.
With only 2 years of experience in the industry, Jessica had an initially modest performance but stood out this year as the most dazzling dark horse. We have invited this guest to share her story.
*Note: Due to privacy protection, the customer name, salesperson and component number in the following content are pseudonyms.
"I value opportunities that others pass up."
The story begins in 2021 when Jessica joined Cytech System in November, marking her first foray into the field of IC sales. This period coincided with the global chip shortage, leading to high market demand, and customers were eager to purchase chips. However, as 2022 approached, the market gradually stabilized.
During the time when demand exceeded supply, customers urgently needed chips. Cytech Systems’ sales team was working tirelessly to efficiently locate scarce product for customers. The products delivered to customers are essentially spot goods that can be delivered within 1-2 weeks.
One day, however, Jessica received an inquiry from end customer A and found that it was impossible to provide that type of product within the requested one or two weeks. She informed customer A that the delivery lead time for available product in the market was at least 10 weeks and asked if the customer would be able to accept it. Surprisingly, the customer agreed.
“At that time, many people might have passed on such long lead time pre-orders, but I saw it as an opportunity for myself.” Jessica said.
Jessica negotiated the booking order with the customer, using it as an opportunity to enter the customer's supply chain system and establish a close cooperation.
Subsequently, the wheel of fortune began to spin.
Jessica continued to receive more orders from the customer, evolving from an initial frequency of one order every one or two months to rolling orders at a faster pace. The customer's orders not only covered their purchasing plans up to the year 2023, but also had already initiated a new round of pre-orders for 2024.
It was precisely at the moment when the market was about to change that Jessica keenly seized the opportunity overlooked or abandoned by others, achieving the accumulation of her first batch of original customers and orders. This laid the foundation for substantial growth in the later stages.
What is the key to build trust with CEO-level customers?
As the market shifted from supply shortage to surplus, customer demands transitioned from efficiency to a focus on stable supply and lower prices.
The shift towards long lead-time booking orders became advantageous compared to spot prices, leading to a change in the focus of customer demands. Jessica began receiving more booking order requests from customers, among whom one particular customer B stood out as the top contributor to her sales performance this year.
This customer, a terminal manufacturer specializing in the consumer electronics sector, had a CEO known for being meticulous and hands-on in work. The CEO, facing significant workload and challenges due to personal involvement in various aspects of the business, found it challenging to manage the extensive and diverse material procurement processes. The time and energy costs of identifying materials and overseeing the procurement process were high, causing constant busyness.
In a fortuitous collaboration with Jessica, after several rounds of negotiations, the CEO decided to entrust Jessica with the entire material procurement process. Jessica, almost unnoticed, transformed into the customer's highly trusted all-around assistant.
Q：How can one win the trust of such a meticulous and hands-on CEO-level customer, making them willing to delegate and entrust the entire supply chain process to you?
A：The key to gaining the customer's trust lies in my practice of meticulously listing, organizing, and summarizing all the steps involved in the transaction before sending them to the customer. This helps customer B have a more intuitive and effective control over the entire process, leading to increased confidence in our cooperation.
In addition to the routine tasks of providing quotes and following up on order arrangements, I also assist customers in the payment and warehouse logistics management aspects. For instance, I organize and summarize information related to each order's payment schedule, cash flow, and credit limit, sending the compiled details to customer B for their reference. I regularly remind customers to check and allocate funds accordingly. Additionally, I label the logistics packaging with corresponding tags, making it convenient for the customer's factory to inspect the received goods.
Customers are highly satisfied with Jessica's meticulous and comprehensive service. They appreciate her excellent work in organizing and summarizing information, as well as scheduling management. This enables him to have a clear understanding of when to place orders, when to make payments, the status of fund allocation, and the progress of production plans – reducing communication costs and effectively improving transaction efficiency.
Q：Was it your initiative to propose booking ordering and assist in planning the entire process?
A：At that time, I had been with the company for about half a year, and I hadn't fully grasped the idea of what I should do for the customers. Initially, the customer's demands were not significant, and they would place orders irregularly every one or two months.
Later, during the process of communicating with customer B about their needs, I found out that the customer had more product requirements and was also concerned about the stability and support of material supply. I explained to the customer multiple times about our solution of providing booking ordering and continuously optimized our services based on customer feedback in each subsequent collaboration.
If customers have long-term demand, buying spot inventory is costly, and market supply is unstable. However, once they understand the advantages of our order placement services, they may prefer to engage in long-term and close cooperation with us.
Jessica, initially tasked with the most basic supplier responsibilities of providing quotes and following up on orders, has gradually evolved into a multi-role position. She now covers roles such as procurement project manager, financial fund manager, warehouse logistics manager, industry information consultant, and more. Jessica has become an irresistible "supply chain intimate steward" for the customers.
With outstanding service, Jessica gained the trust of customer B and secured more orders for herself.
Customer B had initially completed the components procurement plan for the first quarter of 2024. However, upon Jessica's inquiry, customer B realized that the shipment volume unexpectedly increased, surpassing their expectations. Given this growth trend, the customer reevaluated and placed another order with Jessica to purchase a batch of components.
Even in a somewhat sluggish market, some customers are developing steadily. Based on these high-quality customers, both Jessica and the company she work for gained stable and reliable business opportunities, achieving mutual growth and win-win with the customers.