Ditch the Deck & Win Product Listings With Major Retailers!Sheridan Chaffey
Firstly, a little about me. I’m Dan and I’ve been working for New Channel Developments for the past 6 and a half years. We are a specialist sales agency who have a talent for putting our clients products’ in front of major UK retail buyers.
Over the course of my tenure, I’ve put several of my one hundred plus clients in front of the people they want to sell to. Buyers for the likes of Screwfix, WHSmith, Superdrug, John Lewis, Poundland, The Range – to name but a few.
I want to share with you a very important, yet simple message.
Ditch the Deck.
…you know that hulking great wedge of a Powerpoint? 20 pages, 40 pages, 60 pages… maybe even 100 pages long?! Sure, marketing spent weeks on it; story-boarding, graphic designing, focus grouping, etc…
Do NOT take this to a pitch meeting.
In my experience There is nothing that makes a buyer’s eyes roll more than the familiar sight of a laptop, iPad or even worse, a forest of paper bound together neatly by one of those comb thingies.
You’ve gotten this far – you’re in front of Mr. Tesco or Mrs. Harrods, they’re at least provisionally interested in what you’re selling. Now’s your chance to seal the deal and do some business! But instead you decide to whip out your trusty trade deck… It’s the business equivalent of going to see your favourite band in concert and having the support band spend hours on the stage!
I was at a pitch meeting recently with a client – at one of the aforementioned retailers (I won’t say who!). Not only did the client break one of my cardinal rules in bringing along a colleague (three is always a crowd when meeting face-to-face with a buyer for the first time) – but the colleague he brought with him was not used to British retail buyers, so brought his laptop, a projector and paper copies of his deck.
I died a little inside.
“three is always a crowd when meeting face-to-face with a buyer for the first time.”
I had briefed both the client and his colleague that the deck was not required over a coffee before the meeting, and they both agreed, the client happily – his colleague with a confused look on his face. We agreed that I would take the lead and they would demo the product range – as champions of the brand.
I should add at this point that the ‘colleague’ I have been referring to was actually a senior person from the parent company of the brand my client was working on… Mr. Big!
…40 seconds before the meeting, in the waiting area, the Mr. Big pulled rank and said, “I’m not comfortable, I’m taking the lead and using my presentation”.
A visual representation of my exact feelings at that moment.
I tried to reason with him, asserting that I’ve done dozens of these pitch meetings with big retailers and know how they tend to go, but he would not be swayed. He needed his crutch.
Thankfully, the meeting itself took place in a communal lunch area – as opposed to a formal meeting room. Mr. Big could not set up his projector and there was seldom room for anything but a product demo. He tried, however – wafting an iPad in the buyer’s face with yet another extraneous slide in his 90 page deck as the buyer tried to tell us all about their commercial terms.
“Great”, I said after twenty minutes sat in the cramped lunch booth. “Fire over your supplier manual, we’ll send you a quote back and let’s go from there”. Thus bringing the meeting to a close.
Mr. Big looked positively confuddled (mixture of confusion and befuddlement)
He didn’t speak a word to me after the meeting, instead getting straight into the car and waiting for my client to drive him back to his hotel.
My client later told me that Mr. Big was used to European pitch meetings – explaining that German, Italian or French buyers expect to be presented with a full trade deck presentation.
In the UK however, it is a sure fire way to put a buyer to sleep and do no business.
Disclaimer: There may well be instances when your concept is too difficult to explain without visual cues – but we are talking exclusively in terms of major retailers of consumer products – so if your product is overly complex – best of luck! Your best bet in a retail pitch meeting will always be to take product samples to walk the buyer through…
A pitch meeting is a glorious thing. Major retailers are so inundated with requests to stock products that it truly can feel as though you have won the lottery by being granted a face-to-face meeting with them!
So what should you do instead?
Here are my 5 top tips on how to win in a retail pitch meeting
Enjoy what you’ve read? I’d be delighted to elaborate on anything and everything major retail… We are, after all a major retail sales agency and we have lots of war stories to tell!
I’m on 01562 824799
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