‘Cold calling’ no longer a contact option, Chamber procurement seminar told

Pictured (from left): Marie Clifford, ATC Group, Don Foynes, Modular Automation, Claude Costelloe, Zimmer Bioemt, Helen Downes, Shannon Chamber, Padraic McElwee, Gerry Murphy, Ei Electronics, Lilian Kearney, Modular Automation

Smaller companies wishing to become a preferred supplier to larger SMEs and multinational companies should avail of every possible networking and other means to make themselves known to potential customers, a procurement event organised by Shannon Chamber was told.

“The traditional method of ‘cold calling’ for making contact is now redundant so companies need to be innovative and to use different approaches,” Marie Clifford, Managing Director of Advanced Technical Solutions (ATC) stressed. In responding to clients’ needs, they also need to be upfront and pick up the phone if they run into problems with delivery of orders, she added. 

Ms Clifford was one of five keynote speakers from SMEs and multinationals at the seminar organised in conjunction with Clare Local Enterprise Office to coincide with Local Enterprise Week 2019.

Potential suppliers should know the precise price of their offering and their margins when dealing with vendors, in the view of Gerry Murphy, Purchasing Manager with EI Electronics, and they should also be more creative, for instance in terms of offering payment incentives etc.

Procurement processes vary according to particular industries according to Lilian Kearney, Procurement & Logistics Lead with Modular Automation. In Modular’s case, these are very much dictated by specific project requirements.  Her colleague, Don Foynes, Chief Financial Officer, stressed that companies should make sure to fully complete Requests for Quotations (RFQs) where relevant, and should ask questions if they do not understand what’s sought.

Suppliers are a key partner with customers when it comes to achieving cost competitiveness, according to Claude Costello, General Manager of Zimmer Biomet. “We are all in business together and there is a fantastic opportunity for Mid-West companies to work closely together to add value and position the region as a centre of excellence for manufacturing”, he added.

A number of speakers pointed out that smaller companies should be on the lookout for any situations that present openings for their particular expertise or capabilities. “A customer experiencing a crisis in either supply or quality will also remember a supplier who can come to the rescue in that situation,” said Gerry Murphy.

Another area of opportunity highlighted by Marie Clifford was the current uncertainty regarding Brexit. “Companies may be looking to identify local sources who can replace or supplement existing UK-based suppliers,” she said.

The Procurement Seminar attracted a big attendance of companies from the greater Shannon area operating in different sectors, Helen Downes, CEO Shannon Chamber said. “There was general agreement that it was a most useful exercise, affording participants a unique opportunity to hear at first hand from a cross-section of larger industries about their procurement processes and needs,” she said.

AIP Thermoform Packaging in Ballymaley Business Park, Barefield, Co. Clare was one of the companies represented. “Many practical tips were offered. One of the key messages is that potential suppliers need to use every available method, from social media and networking to websites and emails, to communicate their capabilities to potential vendors rather than relying on cold calling,” he said.

This procurement event was an important initiative in helping our micro enterprises understand the requirements of the key industrial leaders in the Region and highlighted some important learning’s to assist in the development of mutually beneficial business relationships.