Basic Thoughts for Suppliers to be Successful

Posted By: Ed Schell Articles, Sales & Leasing, Supplier Partners First,

With over 25 years of selling into multifamily I have found that there are four areas of focus that will help sellers be most successful.

Many suppliers will already know these and use them every day.  Some Suppliers will discover these through this article.  Some Suppliers will be reminded and will re-commit to these. All will be setting up for success.  When you know how your product or service relates to each of these, you can frame your sales message, approach, planning and presentation to be effective and efficient.

Customers always appreciate when a supplier is being effective and efficient which demonstrates respect for their time and your expertise of the situation. When you are performing in one of these four areas, be sure to take credit for the benefit you are bringing to the property. Point it out and be proud of it.

These basics are universal to any product or service and can also be reviewed by the operators and owners to help make purchasing decisions.


1)  Help a property produce revenue

Monetize the impact for your customer. Tell the customer where and how they will be impacted by your product or service using these four areas. These may seem simple. Ignoring these can be detrimental. Implementing these will lead to success. 

Producing revenue for a property is the best situation you can hope for when you are a supplier to multifamily.  Boosting the revenue of a property will nearly always receive attention.  Do not forget the other three basics when you are helping a property produce revenue.  If you ignore the other three, you may undermine the revenue opportunity.  Be sure to quantify the effect on NOI.  If you are proposing a revenue increase and there are additional expenses or work the revenue might not be worth the effort. 

2)  Help a property save time

Saving time is a benefit to every customer.  When you show a customer how you save time, you will gain their attention.  This is also where relationship selling takes place.  Customers appreciate relationships because the relationship saves them time and expedites the purchasing process. This is also where being a subject matter expert will be most effective.  Be sure you are not the person that is viewed as wasting time.  Be ready to get to the point and relate to the needs of the property.  When you are proposing a time savings for a property, recommend where they can reinvest and leverage the new- found time. 

3)  Help a property defer or eliminate expense

When you show a property how you help eliminate or defer expense, you will have a direct effect on their NOI.  The most effective presentation on this is when it is specifically relatable to the industry or the property.  Be sure to be specific.  Present the situation to show what to expect and the direct savings.    Consider rolling the savings up to a quarterly or annual performance to magnify the effect.  Many suppliers can or could use a total cost of ownership perspective to show how a product or service may have additional savings with quality, warranty, service, efficiency, etc.  Again, be sure you are prepared to show the total cost of ownership when it fits with your product or service. 

4)  Help a property improve resident retention or resident satisfaction 

Resident turns are expensive for properties.   Estimates range from $1000 to $5000 in direct cost to turn an apartment.  Certainly, the cost can grow with lengthy vacancy and other accumulated soft costs.  It has been presented that if an apartment community reduced turnovers by just one per month, savings would be more than $20,000 in annual turnover expenses and would free up significant hours for maintenance and administration.  It is obvious that resident retention and resident satisfaction have a direct effect on costs.  It is not a stretch to say that satisfied residents are less problematic, and they are more likely to renew.

As you plan your days and sales contacts, be sure to know how each of these four will impact the customer.  Be well prepared to talk about each.  When you are unsure about the impact, tell your customer you would like to ask some questions to find how each of these might impact the customer. If you happen to be in a position where you cannot currently impact a property, consider postponing the contact.  You will also notice that you are talking with the property about your products and services and their needs and not competitors, sports, the weather, etc.  When you as supplier can show a property how to increase revenue, save time, reduce expense or to reduce resident turnover, you will be successful and viewed as a professional in the multifamily industry.