Yesterday I made one of my usual treks to a distributor food show. As I passed the countless tables of fried foods, gelatos and people feverishly trying to read my name tag I almost started feeling bad for some of the representatives behind the skirted tables.
Conversations with these people quickly made me realize that some of the individuals representing the product lines knew very little about the products they were selling. As a buyer, someone being upfront in explaining that they do not know will always carry more weight than someone side-stepping. Others behind the table seemed to be more focused on their sales pitch rather than listening to what the attendees on the other side of the table were looking for.
Manufacturers that employ these individuals need to understand that the role of the salesperson and brokers is more than just “selling.” These representatives of the organization need to be able to provide suggestions, be able to brainstorm, and to offer alternatives. They need to understand what the buyer needs and then educate them on how their product(s) could be implemented to satisfy that need. Chefs, managers, and buyers do not know everything. They rely on these specialists to assist. It basically boils down to the idea of partnering.
From the perspective of the buyer, partnerships will go a lot farther in building long term business than someone just “selling” a product.
Think of the idea of battles and wars. You may not always win the battle but, winning the war is the overall goal. True partners will let you know when they do not have a solution to specific needs. In the long term that honesty will pay dividends when the buyer comes back to that partner for other solutions that could be utilized.
Suggestions From A Buyer:
– Truly know your product
– Have the ability to fully understand the needs of the buyer
– Be honest about the solution to the buyer’s needs (whether you can provide it or not)
– These small investments in product knowledge and listening will make you a resource for the buyer
Until Next Time…