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Helping customers develop 'solutions' to two of today's real challenges

We sell solutions! The phrase has become so overused that nearly everyone states it and nearly everyone ignores it, except when they are the ones saying it.

Pw 7237 John Mazelin

So what do you sell? Answers to problems, relief of a customer’s pain, ways to accomplish a customer’s objectives, and yes, even solutions can be used to describe the real value you bring to customers.

It is a pleasure to watch a true sales professional when he or she, during the conversation, digs down into the customer’s objectives before trying to present their "spiel." How much easier is it to develop "solutions" that are mutually beneficial when you know what the customer really wants?

Let’s look into two topics that customers today really want—sustainable packaging and diversity in their supplier base. Wait! Even if you believe these two areas don’t apply to you because either you don’t produce sustainable packaging or you’re not a Minority Business Enterprise, think again. These two initiatives do present opportunities.

Every major retailer, consumer-products company, and automotive company has corporate initiatives on both of these subjects. The contract packager’s question is "how can I help?"

To be able to tap the resources of sustainable packaging, you need to know what is occurring in the industry. Though this includes conferences produced by retailers to find out what they’re doing, it should also include seminars, visits, etc., to suppliers of the products, tours of their facilities, discussions with their technical representatives to understand performance differences, the benefits of the product, and the challenges that
performance differences will present to you. Sustainable shrink wrap, blister packaging, and 100% post consumer corrugated can help meet your customer’s objectives. In some cases, they will challenge your current operational systems, but you can learn to adapt and succeed.

How to Get Active

To be a conduit for your customer’s diversity goals, you don’t have to be a certified Minority Business Enterprise. You can contribute by having MBE vendors. The program enables MBE dollars to be passed through to your customer.

Your state or regional Minority Business Council chapter is a great source for information on MBE program, rules and regulations, and other vital information. Chapters often operate in nearby major cities, and they often offer seminars that serve as introductory courses to the program. Target your resources to those companies that not only talk about these goals but also implement them. Determine which companies actually have goals and a method to measure success.

Ways to meet customer objectives and provide solutions will be discussed from several points of view at the Contract Packaging Association’s 2008 Annual Meeting, April 25-28 in Miami, FL. Understanding trends and innovations is a critical first step in the process, and James Marsiller, president, The Solution Partnership, will explain it. Judy Lazaro, director, customer relations, American Institute of Baking, will carry forward other critical elements to success and how employees should be trained to use them. Jeff Hayzlett, chief business development officer, Kodak, will discuss sales strategies and business development initiatives to stay focused and continue to grow. Dennis Salazar, president, Salazar Packaging, will discuss sustainable packaging. See for details. 

The value your company adds relates directly to how well you help your customers succeed in attaining their goals. Sustainable packaging and supplier diversity are two of their goals. Help them. [CP]

Contract Packaging Association President John Mazelin can be contacted at jmazelin@contract

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