Perseverance Pays Off for Suppliers Who Have ‘Grit’  5/16/2016

In researching her newly published book, Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, Angela Duckworth discovered that the one common factor among the highest level performers in the dozens of fields she studied, from business, to art, to cadets at West Point -- even Olympic swimmers – was the amount of sustained effort that these people invested into their particular endeavors.

These top performers simply out-worked everyone else. They doggedly kept going in the face of adversity, in the face of failure; every time they were knocked down, they picked themselves up, learned from the experience and resolutely move forward. They demonstrated a tenacious perseverance, and it was this quality, more than any other – including raw talent or intelligence -- that vaulted them to the top of their respective fields. In short, they showed “grit.”

“Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day,” wrote Duckworth, “what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going.”

I’ve seen this play out among those sellers who participate in ECRM’s EPPS meetings. From my conversations with hundreds of them over the more than 60 EPPS meetings I’ve attended during the past couple of years, it’s clear that those suppliers who see the most success are the ones who put in the work preparing for their meetings, who practice their presentations (and I don’t mean just reading their slides on the flight over, I mean real, deliberate practice), and continually evolve the EPPS experience they provide to buyers based on learnings from prior meetings.

For these sellers, each EPPS results in one of two things: an order (maybe not immediately, but in the follow up), or else valuable insights that they apply to their future meetings as well as their product development. The more meetings they do, the better they get at doing them, the more input they gather and act on, and – no surprise here – the more sales they get long term.

And buyers notice this. One category manager from a multibillion-dollar regional grocery chain told me: “I’m blown away by vendors who maybe don’t have the right offering at our first meeting, but return the next year, and based on the initial feedback I provided, they knock it out of the park in our next meeting.”

Now, tracking and acting on such buyer feedback from 50 to 75 meetings held over the course of a few days isn’t easy; indeed, that’s where the seller’s “grittiness” pays off. But ECRM also provides sellers with tools via our Connect App and MarketGate platform to do just that. ECRM stores your ENTIRE HISTORY of meeting data on the platform to make it easy for you to record, share, study and learn from each EPPS meeting experience .

Here are some where seller grit pays off:

  • EPPS Prep: Just because ECRM makes it possible to efficiently meet with dozens of buyers in a short amount of time doesn’t mean you should treat these meetings with any less importance than an office visit. You should prepare for these meetings as if they were in fact, office visits. Get to know each buyer company you will meet with. Review their websites, see their product offerings. It’s a great idea to read the buyer company’s recent press releases, if they have some, to catch up on any recent relevant news from them that may help you to better focus your presentation. This is especially important if you have a variety of products. 
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!: Don’t leave any part of your EPPS experience to chance. Practice your pitch, make sure you address the key points with no B.S. and that it will leave time for discussion. Prepare questions for the buyer. Rehearse. Have mock meetings with your team and have them throw out every question you think a buyer may ask. Keep doing this until your responses are natural and automatic. Set up a conference room in your office the way your room will be set up for the EPPS meetings, and determine the best places to display each product.
  • Take great notes: Take a ton of notes. I highly recommend that you use the connect app for this, and if you have the staff on hand, dedicate one person to note-taking. We highly recommend entering these notes in the Connect App so you have a digital record for your follow-ups, because after meeting No. 60, you’re not going to remember anything. (Trust me – cognitive research backs this up). If you are faster with a pen and pad, use that, but then enter your notes in Connect following the meetings. Or record your conversations digitally and then have them transcribed and then entered into the MarketGate platform post-EPPS. There is no better way to track your progression long-term than the digital history that the MarketGate provides.
  • Establish action items from every meeting: Follow up is everything. But don’t just create action items for your successful meetings, create a “learning” action item from those that were less than successful – take that information and figure out how you can improve from it.
We know this is a lot of work, but if as long as you persevere, and demonstrate a little “grittiness,’ you’ll see an ROI improvement with each EPPS you attend!

Angela Duckworth in an interview at Google earlier this month discussing her new book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, which came out earlier this month.

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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