So what happens once you’ve gotten past the lunch meeting and actually secured your first sales meeting? Well, if you’ve gotten the opportunity to present your product/service/company to me, try to line it up for the next time they’re at the production facility and get them to invite some of the business users who could be using your products or services. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! Ultimately, procurement people have no decision making power whatsoever. The people that actually make the decisions are the business users that actually use what you’re trying to sell. Procurement people influence that decision, sometimes very greatly, but they do not make the final call.
Generally speaking, I’ll never let you speak to the business in the first meeting. I am fiercely protective of my business users time and I want to vette you and your products/services before you even set foot in the same building as the business user.
Note: This is also another reason why the business lunch is so important. Because if you gain a certain rapport and level of trust with the procurement person during lunch, generally speaking, they’ll let you straight in to present with the business. The thing you have to remember is that during lunch or any meeting they have with you prior to introducing you to the business, they are or should be vetting you. They need complete confidence that what you’re offering isn’t a waste of time for the business user.
If you cannot get the procurement person to agree to bring along the business user, do not despair, just go with the flow and don’t try to circumvent them to get the business in the meeting. As with public speaking, so it is with meeting with a procurement person or business owner, REMEMBER YOUR AUDIENCE! In your first sales meeting with the procurement person, focus on listening. Ask questions about what my challenges are with existing suppliers and service providers. Find out where my pain points are. Be inquisitive and probe. It doesn’t have to be an interrogation, but you should actually listen to what I say.
When you’re presenting your product or service in the sales meeting, Here are a few tips:
Stand Up and Present
- Don’t sit and talk to me about it. I hate sitting presentations.
- Don’t be lazy, you’re trying to secure a sale for goodness sake.
- Have good posture.
- Not only are you presenting your product or service, you’re presenting yourself.
- If you’re presenting in the corporate office and you have an idea of how people dress, dress like that.
- If you’re presenting to a financial services company, wear a suit.
- If you have the business user in the group and it is in a manufacturing environment, be aware of this and dress according to the audience you’re presenting to.
- You need to be relatable to the audience.
- You’re far more likely to get a good audience if you bring snacks and coffee or if it’s a lunchtime presentation bring lunch (sandwiches or pizza) and beverages.
Practice Your Presentation Before Coming
- If I had a penny for every poorly delivered presentation because it looked like the salesperson didn’t practice, ….well I’d have a lot of pennies.
- If you’re not prepared, don’t bother coming and wasting my time.
Be Prepared to Have Your Presentation Derailed
- I will derail your presentation, be prepared for that.
- I will ask questions, lots of questions. Answer all of them. And if you do not know the answer, don’t make one up (just write it down and tell me that you’ll get back to me).
- And sometimes, if I’m having an especially “mean” day, I will try to trip you up.
- Know your product, know your service, know what I’m looking for.
- Prepare a slide deck. Even if you don’t end up using it.
Follow these tips and your likelihood of success will significantly increase. But, be patient! The procurement cycle can be VERY long. In fact, it’s probably too long sometimes, but that’s another rant.
Here’s the deal, your goal for the sales meeting with a procurement person (if you haven’t been able to secure getting the business user) is to get in front of the business user. Don’t try to sell to the procurement person in your sales meeting. All you are trying to do is build confidence in the procurement person that you’re obviously the best choice and therefore should be meeting with the business user to make sure they agree.