You may have heard the adage, “Don’t sell them; help them buy,” and it is wise advice. Do your customers buy several items in specific categories, but you can only supply some of them? If so, why not take over the entire purchasing function in that category? You can keep records of prices, inventory, and order frequency on your computer and supply monthly reports. Provide a complete order-management service, which you can do easily and inexpensively on your computer. It will be difficult for customers to discontinue your service and find it elsewhere without a painful transition.
You can also help customers search for the best prices, quality, and delivery on the items that you don’t supply. Because you know your industry, there may be companies customers don’t know of that are better suited to satisfy their needs. And you may be able to set up a referral agreement with another company that benefits both businesses. Just be careful not to recommend one of your tough competitors, who may also go after your part of the purchases.
If you can provide this type of service, you’re almost assured to receive all the repeat orders for your products, at least for a specified time period. The purchasing agent or person who buys these products knows that if you’re not there, they have to do all the work themselves.
Although this is a great inside position, don’t get too confident and start charging ridiculously high prices and think customers won’t notice. They will check on you periodically, probably without you knowing it. It’s a great job if you can get it, but don’t abuse it. You can also ask for letters of recommendation that you can use to acquire other customers.