I never cease to be amazed at how many Sales Reps drop in to Havens unannounced and want to see me without an appointment. They usually tell me that they are just passing – not easy when you are based as far east as we are!
What happens next is a short but courteous exchange of pleasantries followed by the rep asking if I need to order/view his product. My answer is that I do not know as I have not planned to look at it. As a result the rep leaves and drives 30 miles back to the M25 after a fruitless visit.
With better training and better sales management behind them they could make their visits so much more productive.
Here are the basics:
- Make an appointment, it is courteous and the good buyer will prepare for you.
- Plan your visit, what do you want to achieve. New product launch, range review, sales promotion, market feedback and of course possibly an order!
- Have relevant catalogues and up to date price lists
- Come armed with Best Sellers list in each product category, available from all good sales managers! Mark on the list the products the retailer has in stock and highlight best sellers not in stock. Try to find out why your best sellers would not be in stock.
- Have a digital camera and photograph the way your product is presented – very often sales and marketing offices have no concept of how your product is presented, just an ideal vision.
- Have market information on sales. Retailers sales to date bench marked against your area and then nationally.
- At least once a year range review to make sure the retailer has the best of your ranges.
- Have product information: Lead times, manufacturing issues, country of origin and image bank for website.
- Update on sales progress of new product launched earlier in the year.
- It is the reps chance to get market feedback on supplier competition from the retailer too.
I am sure that there are more to add and I welcome comments from Retailers and Sales Representatives alike.
Fundamentally business is about building relationships and working together to mutually grow each others business. Being prepared on both sides gives that opportunity half a chance.
Think about that next time you are thumping or crawling around the M25 to do a speculative visit.