What goes into productive sales calls at retail?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, how do you make the best use of precious time during a sales call? What information should you ask for, and how much should you share? How do you defuse a tough situation? What works and what doesn’t? What must you never do?
I asked a broad range of industry people for their thoughts on these questions and more. There was agreement on some tactics and strategies, but not on others. Sorry — no magic bullets that are always guaranteed to work. Here’s where I found decent consensus:
- Know your limits before the meeting starts. It’s the same principle as being at an auction and deciding how high you’ll bid on an item before it is put up for sale. That way you won’t get caught up in the heat of the moment and offer too low a price (vendor) or accept too high a price (buyer).
- Easy does it. Don’t yak just to fill in silence. Wait. Listen. Say your piece and shut up. Let the silence build even if it gets a tad uncomfortable. One buyer told me, “He who speaks first, loses.”
- Vendors, try throwing in some value-addeds instead of price reductions during your negotiation. You’ll probably get out cheaper. Buyers, watch out for value-addeds that don’t add value.
- Know when to fold ‘em. Don’t make a bad deal just to make a deal. It’s a slippery slope and, once you slide down, it’s hard to come back the next time around.
Many conversations focused on data — too much, too little, lack of relevance and its high cost. When it comes to specific strategies for sales calls, most of my discussions eventually came around to preparation.
Retailers say too many manufacturers produce Technicolor dog and pony shows about their products but know little about what is actually important to the buyer. Vendors say buyers resist appointments, are secretive about their goals, take phone calls during presentations, charge outrageous prices for data and demand way too much.
Aside from that, things are apparently fine.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can the sales process be improved for both retail buyers and vendors? What old-school strategies or tactics don’t apply anymore?