Distributor Connect Cheat Sheet Part 2: Three Tips to Ace Your Supplier Meetings
In Part 1 of this multipart Cheat Sheet series, we gave you an introduction to Distributor Connect—the exclusive networking event that brings together top-selling distributors with up to 25 well-known print and promotional product suppliers for unprecedented business opportunities. If you missed it, check it out here.
Now that you know what Distributor Connect events are, it’s time to move on to meatier topics, like getting the maximum value from your supplier meetings. Even if you’ve already been lucky enough to attend a Distributor Connect before, there may still be some helpful advice for your next meeting, so be sure to read the full list.
Here are three of our best tips—complete with commentary from past attendees. Let us know if we missed anything!
1. Plan Ahead
In preparation of these meetings, each supplier has researched and prepared for each individual distributor to make the most of those 20 minutes—whether that’s creating spec samples with your company logo, or expanding on solutions tailored for your company. (Try getting that personalized attention at an industry trade show!) So, why wouldn’t you show the same courtesy? Not to mention, we pack a lot into these two-and-a-half business days, leaving little room for spontaneity.
“I absolutely love these one on ones with vendors,” said Nadav Raviv, account executive for City Paper Company, Birmingham, Ala. “Even if you know their product line, being able to discuss certain projects and innovative marketing strategies, and getting in-depth with conversation about vertical market trends is invaluable. Definitely do a little bit of research before the meeting, so that you know their product line (if you don't already know it). It will really help you formulate a strategy, so you can utilize as much time as possible.”
2. But Keep an Open Mind
The plan that we talked about above? That’s sure to come in handy—as is a receptive attitude. You may have a set list of suppliers you’re most excited to meet with, but don’t discount the rest. They’re ready to show you how their product line can ease your customers’ pain points, and just may have solutions that you haven’t even thought of yet.
“I like to ask suppliers to share success stories with up to three of their products,” said Rich Burruss, vice president of business development for O’Brien Corporation, St. Charles, Ill. “Which industry, how were the products used, etc. I like to bring them to life and have examples of success stories that I can share with my clients. Bandwagon effect is always an effective sales technique.”
It also helps to ask thoughtful questions because using the wrong vendor can be costly both in time and money. “The more you know, the better prepared you are in launching a successful campaign,” noted Kristen Scotto, president of Proforma Scotto Promotions, West Palm Beach, Fla. “If print is not the distributor’s expertise, is the printer willing to attend client meetings or conference calls when necessary as an extension of their team? Are they just a printer, or is there added value? As in, will the printer ask questions regarding a project and offer cost-saving alternatives when applicable? Will the printer be honest and pass on a job if a project is not quite in their wheelhouse? And, find out if the printer has multiple locations. This can help save on shipping. Do they offer shipping discounts?”
3. Network, network, network!
Distributor Connect events include additional networking opportunities beyond the meetings. We’ve built time into the busy schedule for breakfast, lunch and offsite dinners at beautiful venues (and the food is delicious, too!).
Plan to attend every event. You’ll have so much fun building upon existing relationships and making new ones, that it won’t even feel like work—and these bonus interactions will make up for any missed time from the office. Don’t believe us? We’ve got proof:
Want to check out a Distributor Connect event and put these tips to use? You’ll have to act fast because we have only one meeting still open to distributors:
- Nov. 7-9, 2018 – Scottsdale, Ariz.
If you are interested in attending an upcoming Distributor Connect, contact Mike Cooper or Renee Brueggeman via email at email@example.com, or call Cooper at (215) 238-5434 and Brueggeman at (920) 716-3713. Complete the Distributor Connect inquiry questionnaire located here. For event information and testimonials, visit connect.goprintandpromo.com.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.