Have you ever gone to a meeting with a brand or manufacturer and felt like it didn’t progress like you hoped?  Maybe you have been focused on SCHEDULING meetings because your company has a KPI of meeting frequency.  What I find in the ingredient sales world is that while meeting frequency is happening, meeting quality is incredibly neglected. While this is true in general in day-to-day activities of an ingredient sales rep, typically it’s even worse during trade show activity.

Trade show meetings are notoriously quick and ineffective because people are unclear about the components of an ideal meeting during a trade show and because of the hustle and bustle of the typical trade show for an ingredient sales rep. In today’s post I want to give you a framework for scheduling & holding effective trade show meetings specifically at next week’s Ingredient Marketplace show.  I also want to encourage you to GO to the best trade show for ideal meeting quality: Ingredient Marketplace!

At Ingredient Marketplace, you have the opportunity to really design the quality of your meetings so that you can improve the experience for the customer and extract the maximum amount of information you need in order to know the direction your customer is going. This will give you better insight for the project you’re working on or for the new opportunities you’ve identified.

Here are 7 steps to create an effective meeting framework for the Ingredient Marketplace trade show:

1  Invite every single one of your customers, every single account, and every single team member at those accounts, to come to Ingredient Marketplace. This  first step will dramatically improve the chances that you will have better quality meetings without the distractions associated when  meeting in their offices or meeting at the more complicated trade shows.

2  Design an agenda that combines both your focus AND their focus. You need to be very clear on what direction you feel the project needs to move and who inside of their team is going to participate in that next stage of the project. That has to be clarified in a very simple agenda with clear points about next actions. And get clear about their specific needs at this stage of the project and the soon to come stages.

3  Clarify the decision making steps including,the internal decision making steps that you accounts have. You may have to ask them for those steps and obtain the decision makers within their organization.  You want to know the departments that need to make decisions, the people in those departments, and the typical challenges they face making  decisions. For example, if regulatory needs some substantiation for particular claims, then provide that substantiation and the claim language that you recommend. Of course they can edit it, they can adjust it to be what they need, but at least give them something to decide on and  move forward on so they can begin with their edits. Too often open-ended ideas tend to remain open-ended for a very long period of time.  By requesting decision making steps the quality of your meetings will improve and you’ll be able to help your customer move projects forward.

4  Provide ALL of the relevant documentation for those decision making activities Here’s another example about documentation:  if the marketing team is making claims around the processing of your ingredient – maybe it’s a certain extraction method, or using certain solvents, or maybe it’s the fermentation process –  whatever the methodology they’re looking at you want to provide them documentation that gives them the whole story so they can  communicate those things in their marketing material. Those documents, if they’re delayed, will delay the decision making activity that has to happen inside of that brand or potential manufacturer.

5  Request introductions during the meeting to the key contacts at each department. Discover who you  need to be in touch with and participating with in the decision making processes in order to support your customer’s launch.

6  Identify the immediate next steps that the customer’s going to take along with the next steps that YOU will be taking. If you don’t identify those clearly then you and your team will be scrambling when the customer needs to move forward in a timely manner.

7  Finally, anticipate materials. This is referring to materials that are needed in the future. Decisions have been made by certain people in the company already, but in the future they’re going to need some materials to be able to approve them in quality, in purchasing, or in downstream departments so that your ingredient gets into the process in the real world, not just in the conceptual world during the conceptual selling process.

I recommend the Ingredient Marketplace trade show to be a great place where you can have effective meetings with all of your customers to transform the projects that you’re working on right now and discover new opportunities!   Effective, well planned meetings at the trade show will give decision makers that are at the company as well as the action takers – the people doing the work – the opportunity to experience all that your ingredient solution has to offer and all that your company can provide them.  When they launch a product or when they are ready to improve their existing products the previous effective meetings you’ve had with them will totally transforms their success.