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10 steps to attract a major customer using ISO 9001:2015

Those who have worked with ISO 9001:2015 know it is a management system that is recognized and used worldwide, and while individual organizations utilize their QMS (Quality Management System) differently, accreditation to the standard nonetheless provides some sort of guarantee to the customer that certain processes and methodologies do exist within the organization holding the certificate. In my experience, an auditor will normally ask a company about the reasons for embarking on ISO 9001:2015 implementation, curious as to whether the reason is for internal improvement or due to external pressure, whether it is from a major client or expected in their industry. One reason that rarely seems to be given is to win new business, and specifically, a level of business above that which the organization currently operates – that is, to win a major partner or customer. From experience, I know that this is certainly possible, so how do we go about using ISO 9001:2015 to demonstrate to a major business partner that we are ready and capable? Let us look at 10 tips that may help us:

  1. Advertise your accreditation: Check with your certification body to ensure how you can do this, but let the business community know that you are 9001:2015 accredited using the permitted logo on your letterhead and website. This immediately raises your credibility.
  2. Demonstrate that you adhere to an international standard: This will literally break down borders for your organization in terms of letting potential partners from different regions know that you adhere to a standard that is recognized worldwide.
  3. Show process control and consistency of product: Now that you are talking to a potential partner, your adherence to the standard will demonstrate that you can produce a consistent product via your established processes.
  4. Demonstrate customer satisfaction: What is more persuasive to a business prospect than examples of satisfied customers? Your adherence to section 9.1.2 of the standard will show your potential partner that customer satisfaction is sought, taken seriously, and acted upon. We have more information in our previous article: Handling customer satisfaction with code of conduct and complaints procedure.
  5. Continual improvement: The desire for continual improvement should always impress a potential partner, especially one who can see you have aspirations for growth.
  6. Demonstration of leadership commitment: Critically, accreditation to the 2015 standard demonstrates that your top team is committed and involved in the ISO 9001:2015 process with its one major output: delivering customer satisfaction. For more information, see our previous article: How to comply with new requirements in ISO 9001:2015.
  7. Showing a positive company culture: In my experience, companies that adhere to ISO 9001 have a much more positive culture, with customer satisfaction and continual improvement being driving factors in people’s day-to-day duties; this bodes well for a major organization that may wish to build a relationship with you.
  8. Waste reduction and money saving: If a prospective partner sees you take this seriously, it demonstrates that you can plan, measure, review, and action your activities efficiently. These are all staple components of ISO 9001:2015.
  9. Demonstrate scalability: This is a much-overlooked, but critical factor. ISO 9001:2015 principles demonstrate to a partner that a direct scaling up of operations is possible, given that the organization has established processes and methodologies. If you are courting a partner who is significantly larger than your organization, you may want to consider how to present your evidence to them accordingly.
  10. Make evident your ability to change: Again, this is critical. Section 6.3 specifically addresses planning for change, and if you can demonstrate that you can do this in a controlled fashion, a larger organization may think that you are ready for the positive change that a new business relationship will bring. See some tips on this subject in our previous article: Using the ISO change log for customer satisfaction in ISO 9001.

So, as we can see, the use of ISO 9001:2015 principles can help you construct a persuasive case for a larger corporation than yourself to consider you as a partner, and for you to win their business as your customer.

ISO 9001:2015 benefits: Why hide them?

Many of us who are familiar with the ISO 9001:2015 standard know of the benefits accrued from compliance. Not all of our clients, suppliers, and potential partners may be the same. If you have a sales team, it may pay to ensure that they have the same level of knowledge and enthusiasm that you possess – for example, it may be that if you are in a tender process, that ISO 9001:2015 will be your “unique selling point,” that elusive catchphrase that every organization seeks to capitalize on. Encourage your sales people to use your accreditation as a tool to sell, and give them the knowledge and training to back up the sales pitch with the correct information and answers when the questions inevitably come. Then, your whole organization will be ready to step up when the call from that new major customer arrives.

Use our  ISO 9001 Foundations Online Course to gain more knowledge about the ISO 9001:2015 standard.

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.