I get one chance to chat to a major customer, and I don’t want to stuff it up.

Dear ABDI,

My major customer is a beef processor. I’m keen to get in the room with them, have a conversation and see what else we can sell them. We’ve got capacity to increase our supply due to a recent inheritance, and have commenced transitioning one property across to organically certified. I know I’ll probably only get one shot at having this conversation with them, and I don’t want to stuff it up.

Any tips?

– Meeting My Processor

 

Dear Meeting My Processor,

It’s excellent you are asking these types of questions now. Most people go in, guns blazing, talking of all the things they have and what is special about them – how they have the best product, can supply more, etc etc.

If you are observant, you will see that at this point your customer’s eyes start to glaze over. In reality, they don’t care about you. The customer only cares about what you can do for him / her. The conversation with your customer (in this case your processor) is only ever about them – so you can find out what you can do for them.

See, in reality, none of us are in the business of selling a product / service. Instead you are in the business of solving problems. Your processor customer might have more than enough organic suppliers, and they might tune out as soon as you start talking about going organic. You need to first find out what their problems are, before you offer solutions. And their problems may well surprise you!

You have to start with what we call the Discovery Phase. Ring them up, sit down with them, and talk about what’s going on in their business. Spend time helping them get clear on the major problems they have – or at the very least ask questions so you know for sure exactly what their problems are. Maybe their biggest issue is constantly having to deal with unprofessional suppliers, chasing the deal of the day. Imagine what you could do armed with that information!

BUT!!

Don’t even try to offer solutions to them at this point. You must first go away, review your own business offering / model, and see where your business intersects with their needs / problems. Don’t go off half-cocked until you have thought this through. Because there is nothing worse than overpromising, and underdelivering – or being slightly off the mark when returning with clear defined solutions to their problems.

Good luck with your conversation,

ABDI

 


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