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Nov 13

Meeting with Sales Representatives

Posted by: Steve Marr

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“Adam” worked for a family manufacturing business. Recently Adam was given the responsibility for purchasing. Because the business was small, he also had other responsibilities.  The manufacturing process used a lot of different types of materials. Sales people were always calling on him, absorbing a lot of his time, and returning little benefit. He asked me for help to improve the process.


First, I instructed him to schedule sales appointments for a specific reason.  Adam needed to set an expected outcome. A hundred sales reps might want to meet with him; that’s what they do. Meeting just to be in a meeting is a waste of time. Adam needed to ask for a one page summary of their service or product and find out about their Unique Sales Proposition. Most salespeople won’t offer this. They want a meeting and start talking, not always about their product. This wastes time.

If the one page introduction demonstrates the product’s potential, ask for a ten minute video presentation or a longer report. If he sees potential after taking this step, he should schedule a meeting.

When he schedules the meeting, he should also set an agenda. He should provide a copy in advance to the salesperson. The agenda indicates the amount of time allocated to the meeting.  If the presentation is complex, he could record the meeting to listen to it later.

I suggested that he prepare a brief outline of this process to keep handy.  When someone asks for a meeting, share a copy of the process.  Then follow that process with no exceptions.

We read in Acts, “The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.” (Acts 19:32, NIV) Meeting with a lot of sales reps can be confusing and waste a lot of time. Only meet a sales representative when you know why you are meeting and for what specific purpose. While a few will whine when you decline a meeting, others will see your orderly process as a positive opportunity.

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