There is nothing quite like it for a retail product vendor! That moment you walk into the tiny room filled mostly with a table and too many chairs. You’re a bit early, as the last thing you want to be is late for your big meeting with the retailer who is going to put your product on the map. You lay out your presentations, go through some last minute prep in your mind and look at your watch about 50 times. Once your meeting time has come and the buyer’s arrival is eminent, the last thing to go through your mind is, “don’t screw this up!”
How much control do you really have in a Big Box buyer meeting? Can that meeting really make or break your product’s chances? What about your product? Surely the buyer is going to see how amazing it is and no matter what you say or don’t say the product’s merits will shine through. Right? The true answer here is that YOU are the only one who has any control in a Big Box buyer meeting and YES that meeting can make or break your product’s chances.
I know! The buyer is the one who makes the ultimate decision so how can you have all the control? What the buyer learns about you, your company and your products comes from only one person, YOU! What you say, teach, demonstrate and offer matters and can make the difference between getting a commitment to go to the next step, or getting a “follow up with me in a few months.”
After participating in over 100 buyer pitch meetings in multiple countries, I have some definite do’s and don’ts that I find critical to my clients’ success.
Today we will focus on 5 things you never want to sell to a buyer in a pitch meeting:
- Never sell yourself – Unless you are a $20 million dollar per movie celebrity sell your company or product instead. Retailers want to do business with companies, not a single person; so present to them your company and product, not you or what “you” have done. Companies are far more stable than people and better for retailers to partner with. If you invented your product by all means discuss that during your demonstration of the product, but don’t make the pitch about you.
- Never sell your future marketing spend – Instead sell what you are doing right now with regard to marketing. Retailers cannot force you to make good on the millions you said you would spend if they buy your product and for that reason they don’t base many decisions on what you say you will do and more on what you have done or are currently doing.
- Never sell your product’s sales potential – Instead sell what your product is currently trending right now. Buyers have no shortage of products that have potential, but what they are really looking for are products that are showing potential based on current sales history. If you have a limited history that is ok, simply speak to what your product is doing, not what it might do in the future.
- Never sell your product’s future look – Instead, if possible, have a production-ready product and packaging to show. If a production-ready product is not possible, at the very least have a professional rendering of your product and packaging.
- Never sell your friends’ opinions of the product – Instead, be ready to present real consumer feedback and testimonials. If you don’t have this, you need to get it. Your product is not viable until it has independent, consumer validation.
At its core, a retail buyer meeting is really just a conversation between people with a common goal. That goal is to provide that retailer’s customer with the best products at the best prices. Don’t freak yourself out, breathe and:
- Come prepared
- Know your market
- Know your product
- Know your competition
- Know the retailer
- Anticipate their questions
- Don’t waste their time
Don’t worry, you will do great!!
We would like to hear from you. Tell us about your experiences in the buyer meeting trenches.