When working with buyers, you are in sales mode all the time—from the initial contact to an on-site tour to meetings even after the deal is struck. Make each contact with the buyer positive. The initial tour should show the plant off in the best light. Let the buyer see clean work spaces, well organized inventory, efficient assembly areas, and offices that function and thrive, not shells of empty cubicles with desks piled high with storage boxes and discarded computers. The tour for a buyer is as critical as a sample product for a customer.
We had a business many years ago in which there were buckets hanging from the ceiling in the manufacturing shop to catch the rain from a roof leak. Not only is this unattractive, but it also suggests that the seller has been deferring his maintenance. Once a buyer sees one obvious example of a problem, they assume there are others.
Find an item of good news to share in each conversation. Our days as owners are filled with information about products pitches that have gone well and some presentations that did not work out as we would have hoped. Inevitably, the buyer will ask about a comment made earlier in the process perhaps regarding a new customer or product the business was on the cusp of landing. It is not uncommon that occasionally these projected slices of good news do not turn out as hoped. The customer did not make a decision yet, the project was delayed, a bid was lost, etc. What is important however when sharing this disappointing news is the owner finds some sliver of good news to report alongside the sharing of the bad news.
“The Jones account we told you about, we are still talking to them. Unfortunately, they have not signed off on the Purchase Order yet. It has something to do with the new vice president of the division, but I know the sales team is staying on top of it. However, we are really pleased we got a call a week ago from the Smith Corporation looking for something very similar, albeit a slightly smaller quantity. Frank was able to get them a quote quickly and he was told the end of last week that the Purchase Order is currently on the senior manager’s desk. Seeing that this is the second inquiry from this industry for these products, he has put together a list of seven other similar companies and is now following up with each of them.”