Conducting Distributor Sales Meetings

Many times manufacturers set up sales meetings to introduce new products or new contacts for their company but do not set any goals or objectives for the sales meeting and the desired outcomes. If you want to stand out from the rest of the presenters then you should have an action plan in place.

Just like building a house, or making a part, you need to start with a blueprint.

Before we get into some nuts and bolts let’s take a look at the sales funnel process:

The Sales Funnel

The Sales Funnel

All sales meetings should be based upon an understanding of the sales funnel model:

  • Awareness: Train the sales force how to identify best prospects with 3-5 key prospect identifiers.
  • Interest: Train the sales force how to highlight 3- 5 primary features/benefits of your products to stimulate interest at the end-user level
  • Desire: Set follow-up meetings with vendor representatives and end-users.
  • Action: Sell the products!

Vendors fail to realize that distributor sales people may see several presentations in the course of a sales meeting day and hear multiple presentations. In the process of learning about the items you’ve got to remember that the salespeople will only retain 20% of what you talked about 1 week later and only 5% after one month.

If you can accomplish nothing else, the best method is to pick out several key points to highlight. Enough information for the field sales force to go out and “get themselves into trouble” Remember, at the outset you are merely trying to create awareness of the product or service. Keep it simple. You can go into detail but you want to control the information that will be retained and repeated to the end-users.

The goal of the sales meeting is NOT to close an order the next day, although that does happen, but to teach the sales people at your distributor “how to fish” and “how to find fish”

The following is some basic information your might want to use as a template and you can use/modify to suit your needs. These will be the basis of the sales meeting. We would like this information completed as much in advance of the sales meeting so that we can begin to identify prospects for your products.

Individual sales meetings with any vendor/manufacturer should be limited to 1 – 1 ½ hours. In an effort to insure that you cover all of the important issues it’s a good idea to set up a standard agenda format. A sample agenda follows. Obviously, if there is already a working relationship it’s not always necessary to go through every item. Although, if new salespeople have been hired and you’ve never gone over some of these items don’t be surprised if they don’t know.

NEVER ASSUME that what you have said is retained unless you’ve said it a million times

Sample Sales Meeting Agenda
1. Introduction and Background Bio /Experience
2. Review of Discounts
3. Review Policies and Procedures
a. Test Tool Policy/Guaranteed Trial Orders
b. Order Entry
c. Shipping/FOB Points
d. Returns/ Restock
e. Sample Tools/Trunk Stock
4. Review of key contacts inside, outside and engineering
5. Product Identifiers
6. Product Features/Benefits
7. Wrap-up Questions
8. Setting future field work schedules with the sales force

Prospect Identifiers
Identify 3-5 target prospect ‘identifiers’. This could be a type of machine, a type of material, an operation, etc. This should be followed by a questions that outside salespeople should ask about this item that they have now recognized.

An example is as follows:
Identifier 1: Cross hole burrs
Question: How to you debur those burrs? By hand? In a deburring machine? A deburring tool in the machine?

Identifier 1: ______________________________________________________
Question 1: ______________________________________________________

Identifier 2: ______________________________________________________
Question 2: ______________________________________________________

Identifier 3: ______________________________________________________
Question 3: ______________________________________________________

Identifier 4: ______________________________________________________
Question 4: ______________________________________________________

Identifier 5: ______________________________________________________
Question 5: ______________________________________________________

Key Features/Benefits
Identify 3-5 key features and benefits of your product or service. Many Manufacturers/vendors have a broad product offering and many products within that offering. However, you sell several products which have made you a market leader in certain segments. The GOAL is to talk about these key products and their advantages over the competition. Limit any detailed or in-depth exploration of technical features at the outset. Understand, that you can go over them in the course of the meeting The goal of these is to enable the sales force to stimulate enough interest to set up an appointment with you and their end-user. During those meetings our sales force will gain more in-depth product knowledge.

It’s also a good idea to layout your agenda in the form of a “cheat sheet” and tell the sales force at the outset of the meeting what you intend to cover. The agenda and lists are very useful to pass out at the outset so that the sales force can take notes. This is important. I’ve sat in sales meetings that start off fantastic. The sales force is very very impressed… but at some point in the meeting you start to see sales people’s eyes close, yawning, stretching, and then the presenter says “Ok, now we’ll begin to cover the next product” and you can almost hear everyone’s brain screaming “OH MY GOD, this is going to go on FOREVER!” Don’t let that happen to you.

You might also include in your list room for the salespeople to make some “Prospect notes” As you are talking the sales people may think of some of their customers who might be interested RIGHT NOW in something you say. It’s a good idea to review this with them at the end of the meeting and find out “Who has a list of people that we should talk to right now? Should we schedule some work times?”

Product 1: ______________________________________________________
F/B 1: __________________________________________________________
Prospects: ______________________________________________________

Product 2: ______________________________________________________
F/B 2: __________________________________________________________
Prospects: ______________________________________________________

Product 3: ______________________________________________________
F/B 3: __________________________________________________________
Prospects: ______________________________________________________

Product 4: ______________________________________________________
F/B 4: __________________________________________________________
Prospects: ______________________________________________________

Product 5: ______________________________________________________
F/B 5: __________________________________________________________
Prospects: ______________________________________________________

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