In material handling, distributors have many options. That is why it is vitally important that you be able to succinctly and effectively differentiate your product and your company from the competitors. To do this, manufacturers must reconsider and re-calibrate how they treat the all important sales meeting.
Too many sales meetings turn into long, drawn out versions of “show and tell.” This is not an effective use of your time or your potential customer’s time. An effective sales meeting addresses the customer’s needs and shows how you and your product are part of the solution. Here are some easy changes you can make to ensure that your next sales meeting is a training session and not a dog and pony show.
Communicate before the meeting.
Time is money. Whether you are the person presenting at the meeting, or you’ve scheduled a meeting with a potential vendor, everybody’s time is valuable. Both the supplier and the distributor should clearly communicate time constraints and expectations for the meeting before the meeting starts. If you only have half an hour for a meeting, tell the presenter that up front so that they may tailor their presentation to that time constraint. Also, make your expectations for the presentation clear. I once had a distributor send me an actual outline of what they expected me to cover during the meeting. This was helpful because it made clear what their expectations were, and ensured that I wasn’t wasting the time of the 20 people from their company in the room. That’s 20 man-hours they were investing in my presentation, and they didn’t want to see a dog and pony show.
Focus on solutions.
If you’re giving a presentation, approach the meeting as a storyteller. Give concrete examples of how and when your company solved a similar challenge. People remember stories. Use case studies and examples that your customer can relate to. It’s much more effective than just telling the customer how great your product is.
Focus on impact questions.
Whether you are presenting or hosting the presentation, it is important that the attendee’s are able to walk out of the meeting with a clear understanding of what challenges the product solves and where it can be found. The distributor must also know how to sell to their customer. What questions to ask? How do they prove ROI?
Develop interactive content.
Being able to answer a question and then support it with digital video will not only keep the group engaged, but also provide weight and support to your original claim. Digital content is a great catalyst for further discussion and better questions.
Networking is so important in today’s world. Whether it’s through social networks like LinkedIn or by more traditional means like exchanging business cards or passing around a sign in sheet, make sure that you’re creating relationships in your meetings. While a sale might not happen today, if you’ve created a relationship, you’ve opened the door for a sale down the road.
Not only does everyone love food, everyone remembers the guy who brought food.