Preparation is fundamental to success when barnstorming with a vendor guest
When you manage a territory in the musical instrument and professional audio trade, manufacturer and distributor management will want to travel with you periodically. Ideally, this provides an opportunity to leverage the knowledge and skill of your guest, while demonstrating that your company has its collective act together. This past week we at Reflex Marketing had such an occasion, hosting SF Marketing General Manager John Kelley for dealer appointments in Upstate New York, Long Island, and New York City. John is an experienced hand in our vertical and provided a big assist, as our goal was to expand SFM positioning. Key to this coming together was the work that happened prior to and after the visit, and results were in line with expectations.
Preparation and trip planning
Putting together a structured trip plan means more than simply confirming dealer meetings in advance. Logistics are important to pay attention to, as even in larger geographical areas such as Upstate New York you can squeeze the most out of a day, maximizing time with your accounts and minimizing “windshield time”. Build some flexibility into your schedule to account for traffic and a brief stop for lunch. Even road warriors need replenishment!
Advance notification and agenda
A critical component of any sales call is to have a firm appointment set with the appropriate people. Include management and buyers in the loop, along with key influencers. Let your customer know why you’d like to stop by, who you are bringing, and what topics are on the table. Send an additional email a few days in advance to remind everyone at the store or purchasing office that you’re coming in, while presenting a clear and concise agenda means no surprises or awkward moments.
What’s the takeaway?
It’s not enough to know what you are arriving with – the real question is “what are we hoping to leave with?”. Is it a commitment to a new product line, or an expansion of a current assortment? Was this a high-level political meeting, or a hands-on gear demo designed for key influencers? Having a clear idea of the desired outcome can have a profound effect on your results, and subsequent orders for your wares.
Follow-up and action items
Dealer visits with a manager or executive from a manufacturer set the table for additional business, along with further enhancing personal relationships. Paramount here is the requirement for a musical instrument or pro audio sales rep to not just show up but follow up on commitments made during the sales calls. This includes a warm thank you note, along with product build sheets and a formal order proposal. When your customer sees this level of attention and due diligence, the chances of finalizing the sale go way up. None of this is “rocket science”, so let’s all get on the same page about the importance of planning for success.