5 Essential Topics Brands MUST Cover During a Buyer Meeting 5/26/2022
You’ve recently launched your brand, ramped up your production, have distribution all set and ready to go, and maybe even had some wins from local retailers, direct-to-consumer sales and your RangeMe storefront.
Now you are getting ready to participate in an ECRM session and meet with buyers from large retail chains face-to-face in a virtual meeting. Are you ready?
To help you prepare, I recently spoke with John O’Maley, a CPG veteran with 41 years of sales and marketing experience, who has helped brands successfully launch 185 products into the U.S. retail market. He has participated in more than 285 ECRM sessions representing brands across a variety of categories, so he knows a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t work in a buyer meeting.
In the video below, we take a deep dive into the five key things you need to address during your buyer meeting, as well as how to address them. Here’s a summary of each:
1. Your company
It pretty much goes without saying that the buyer wants to know about your company. Who you are, how long you’ve been in business, whether or not you are you financially viable and have solid management, and what kind of successes you have had at retail must be briefly covered at the outset.
At this point in the game, however – since it’s the initial buyer meeting – there is no need to go into the history of the company, or how you started it as a side hustle in the kitchen while taking care of the kids; that can be saved for when the relationship progresses. For the initial meeting, you just need to show them that your company and team are solid.
2. Incremental Product Opportunity
Does your product represent incremental sales and profits for the category? Will it “grow” the category, not just swap (or cannibalize) dollars with another product? This is extremely important to demonstrate to buyers. Remember, as great as your product is, buyers don’t care as much about it as they care about their category and its success. Show how your product will contribute to its success.
“Incrementality” can be defined many ways, says O'Maley: It can be a new product concept, its ability to drive new customers to the category (different demographics, natural product consumers, etc.), a new delivery form, new size, bonus pack, or premium pricing to trade consumers up. Be creative on how you define incrementality. Always talk in terms of product features and corresponding consumer benefits, and why they are important to the buyer’s category growth.
Your product has to be priced optimally for the retailer’s market and category. Does the pricing make sense in terms of value and competition? Is the category price sensitive? Is it an impulse purchase? Will the retailer make an acceptable margin?
“Price connotes efficacy,” says O’ Maley. “Many premium products offer a solution to a serious condition and consumers are willing to pay more if it solves a problem or improves their quality of life for them, their family or pets and delivers on its promise. Don’t always go for the lowest price, as it’s often difficult to win a price war. Manufacturers need margin dollars to advertise and market a product successfully.”
(To learn more about how to price your products, read "4 Steps to Product Pricing Success" on the ECRM blog.)
4. Advertising and marketing support
According to O’Maley, 75 percent of new products from first time vendors fail in the first two years primarily because the product is not properly marketed and advertised, either because there is not enough money, or the advertising and marketing is not effective and aggressive enough. Buyers must be confident that the product will have an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign behind it, that the company knows how to execute it effectively, and that it has the right people in place to do so.
There are many ways to successfully market and advertise, such as geo-targeted social media promotions, Google Retargeting, SEO, radio, print, sampling, TV, DRTV, and public relations, just to name a few. “Buyers will often decide on a product based on how compelling the advertising story is,” says O’Maley. “It is important to put a dollar amount on the expected and budgeted advertising the company is prepared to spend during the 12 months following the launch. And this advertising commitment is above and beyond co-op advertising that must be committed to for many accounts.”
5. The sales and marketing team
Is the right sales and marketing team in place to launch the product? It is critically important that buyer sees that the sales/marketing team (either company personnel, experienced consultants, sales management, brokers & advertising company) knows exactly what they are doing, as buyers don’t have time to hand-hold a new company through the set-up process.
Crushing the buyer meeting
O’Maley recommends that suppliers split their buyer meeting time into two halves, with one half dedicated to covering the five points above, the other half dedicated to discussion and Q&A, or “closing.” (If it is a 10-minute meeting, this means only five minutes should be used for presenting.). Use a deck with no more than 8-10 slides, with print and graphics large enough so a buyer can easily see the presentation. Three bullet points and one graphic per page is a guide that he recommends. A 30- second product demonstration video can also be effective.
During the second half of the meeting, focus on the close. Is the buyer interested? What objections are there? What is the timing of the planogram? What does the manufacturer have to do to convince the buyer? “By the end of the meeting, the supplier must know the buyer’s interest level, and what the next steps will be,” says O’Maley. “This might include sending samples, broker/company follow up, a follow up meeting, completing forms, or planogram timing, for example. If the buyer is not interested, find out why.”
Ultimately, you should always come away from a buyer meeting with at least one of two things: A follow up that leads to further engagement with that buyer, or insights from the buyer on how you can improve your offering. Ideally, you’ll get both, but either one will help drive your business forward!
Editor’s note: John O’Maley works with brands to help them succeed at retail. He can be reached at: (513) 227-7191 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read John's recent column, "The 3-Second Rule: Designing a Perfect Package Front Panel."
Full interview with John O'Maley