How NOT to do an EPPS Meeting  1/5/2015


The heart of ECRM’s events are the Efficient Program Planning Session (EPPS) meetings. That’s where the action takes place, where we all “get down to business.” Unfortunately, for some buyers and sellers, not much business is getting done at these meetings, but rather, just a bunch of talking.

Here is the hard truth about a 20 minute EPPS meeting…it is over in the blink of an eye! (And what does that say about a 10 minute meeting?)

Sadly, here is what I have often heard/seen at these meetings in the 30+ shows in which I have participated:

:00 Buyer(s) walks in

:01 Handshaking, Taking Seats

:02 Introductions, Small Talk

:05 Manufacturer begins spiel about who they are, what they manufacture, where the plant is located, how large it is, the fact that they just moved into a larger facility and they now have increased capacity, that their great, great grandfather or grandmother began the company making sausage (or cookies, or salsa, or dumplings) in the kitchen sink, that it is still family owned and operated, that they just launched this new line because of this and that size or flavor trends, that they changed the packaging from last year because of this or that reason, that they are ready to ship or not ready to ship until a particular date, that they could possibly offer customized products, that they source their ingredients from this or that place, that they are sustainable, green, conscientious, that they care about their employees…..and on and on and on…

Manufacturer finally wraps up, “So, what do you think?”

:13 Buyer, “Well, they are intriguing products. Do you know anything about our stores?”

:14 Manufacturer, “Uh, well, no, we are located in X city and there aren’t any of your stores in our area.”

:15 Buyer gives a three minute spiel about who they are

:18 ECRM Staff walks by room, “Two minutes, please”

:18 Buyer, “These items could be a fit for us, but we usually look at this category just once a year. Do you have a basic cost on this item and this item?

:19 Manufacturer, “Thank you, we’re glad you like the products. Cost? Uh, well, we’re could work on that for you depending on several factors. So, when would you be looking at the next review?”

:20 ECRM Staff walks by room, “Time’s up”

Buyer, “Here’s my card, just shoot me an email and we can give you the next review date.”

Manufacturer, “Thank you – we appreciate your interest!” “By the way... (wait for it)….where are your DC’s? Do you have more than one location? Do you go through a distributor? Is the review an online review or would it be in your office? Do we send samples for the review? Where should we ship them? How do we be sure we are invited to the review? Is there slotting? Would you want the items under branded or private brand? Would you consider starting with branded and then moving to private brand, since it is usually a long process? What are the costs for artwork? If you take branded, are there program fees? Advertising? Is there an upcharge with your distributor that I should take into consideration when thinking about the end retail? And….and….and….?”

:23 (Note the time) ECRM Staff comes to the door of your room and says, “Please, time’s up – someone else is waiting for this buyer”

The results of this meeting in which both parties have invested time and money:

Buyer: Leaves the room shaking her/his head with no feel for the price of the product, disappointed that the manufacturer didn’t do their homework to research who they are, where they are positioned in the market and which products could be a fit – and chalked the meeting up to a waste of time with the hope that the next manufacturer has done a better job and their time will be well spent.

Manufacturer: Frustrated that they don’t have the answers to any of their questions, a little embarrassed that they couldn’t at least offer a ballpark cost, on the verge of being a little po’d that the meeting wasn’t more fruitful, can’t believe that they didn’t get a little closer to a PO in the meeting and are already in the next meeting and starting the same spiel with the next buyer.

Use your time wisely at these meetings. ECRM provides you with a great tools -- ECRM Connect – to prepare for these meetings. And virtually all buyers and sellers have a website nowadays. Do your research ahead of time, so you can spend those 10 or 20 minutes asking and answering those specifics that will drive the relationship forward.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Let us know if you have had a similar experience, and what you would recommend to buyers and sellers new to the EPPS process! And stay tuned for my upcoming columns!

Andrea Leiser

President
RSVP Solutions Group

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