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How Can We Help You Succeed?

By Joe Morelli

November 22, 2019

width=236In the most basic sense, we are all in business for one reason: to make money. So at its very core, the question “What do you need?” can be answered by business owners in a few simple responses: “I need to improve profitability” or “I need to increase revenue.” Instead of telling business owners what they need, a better approach is to ask ourselves—as suppliers to the paper-based packaging industry—how we can help our partners answer the question for themselves.

During the Associate member meeting at the AICC Spring Meeting in Miami, we held a Q&A session with Stuart Fenkel, president of the corrugated division at McLean Packaging Corp. The conversation was fascinating on several different levels, but what stood out to me was the raw access to what a highly regarded high-level executive like Fenkel is looking for from his suppliers. His response to that question is exactly what every supplier in the industry should strive to do, which is to provide innovative solutions, ideas, and value and to act as an extension of his business in order for him to become more profitable.

I recall early in my career bringing doughnuts to a client early in the day. As I dropped them off, I really had nothing else to bring to the table, and what they said to me next was something that probably changed the way I looked at sales: “Don’t just bring me doughnuts, bring me ideas.” I could not have been further from what people were looking for in a supplier.

As a former Emerging Leader (EL) and a relatively fresh face in the industry, I often get asked by the current group of ELs what helped me find success early in my career. The answer is simple: I dedicated myself to understanding my business, my clients’ businesses, and what solutions I could offer that would help them succeed. I take every opportunity to learn, even today. Whether it is through AICC’s education programs, plant tours, or listening to the more experienced people around me, every piece of information I gather is meant to provide value to my clients.

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Value is something more than just doughnuts, price, or asking someone how their family is doing when you visit with them. Bringing value to someone is what all business owners need in order to succeed. Rather than asking the “What do you need?” question, I think it is more appropriate for us as suppliers to ask, “How can we help you succeed?”

Joe Morelli is vice president of sales and marketing for Huston Patterson Printers and is vice Chair of AICC’s Associate board.