You already know that having your business on a preferred supplier list can help increase your sales and open doors to new opportunities. Now you need to do the proper research in order to make the most of this channel to find new customers.

We’ve put together a tip sheet to help guide you through this research phase.

Know what you’re good at

Being a successful exporter, you already know what you do best and where your strengths lie. Still, when you’re presenting yourself to a much larger, multinational company, it won’t hurt to re-evaluate what you can offer them.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How can my products or services provide value to prime contractors (“primes”) in my sector?
  • What is unique about my offering that I can bring to the relationship?
  • Can I tailor my features and benefits so they’ll be more valuable to the primes I want to target?
  • Given my capabilities, what else could I provide that I’m not already offering?

Understand the value your company offers and communicate this to your target primes. If you can demonstrate that you appreciate their problems, and that your products or expertise can provide them solutions, they’ll be more likely to recognize your value as a long-term partner.

Make a shortlist

The next step is to identify the primes in your sector. You might already be aware of the major ones, but there could be others that haven’t appeared on your radar.

Matchmaking sites can be useful for this research. Enterprise Canada Network, for example, connects Canadian businesses to global opportunities.

You can also consult with your Canadian regional office of the Trade Commissioner Service, and with country experts at Export Development Canada.

There are also many tendering and procurement sites, such as the United Nations Procurement Division, that may give you leads.

Once you’ve found the most promising possibilities, do additional research to find out what these primes need for their operations. Use this research to select a manageable number of primes whose requirements best match your capabilities. These companies will make up your shortlist of target primes.

Research your competition

Find out as much as possible about the competitors that are already on your target primes’ preferred suppliers’ lists.

Try to answer these questions:

  • How long have they worked with their primes? How close is the relationship?
  • What kind of work are they doing and how much?
  • Can you identify where you have a competitive edge? How can you best present this edge when you meet with your target primes?

Doing this research before making initial contact with any of your target primes will put you in a competitive position when going through the application and evaluation process.

To learn more about how to navigate this process, from initiating contact to the qualifying evaluation, check out our webinar.