In this article, I want to talk about the first meeting with a purchasing representative.
Having been working in the purchasing position for 8 years, I am well-known about the mind of a purchasing representative. In general, a purchasing representative does not to change the current supply channel to new one, because he or she must risk of the new supplier’s delivery and quality problem. Also, in the manufacturing company, the procedure of qualifying a new supplier is very strict and takes so much time. So, when a new supplier comes to visit him, he has a negative mind at first generally.
But as a salesman, if you want to sell your products, you would get over this. Hereon I will write something from my experience for reference.
Firstly, appointment for the first meeting is very important.
Normally, many salesmen in China go to the client without appointment. (I mean many local suppliers, not the international companies). I believe many of purchasing representatives don’t like the meeting which is out of his schedule. As a purchasing representative, he is busy to do his current job which will be effect to the production lines. If you visit your client without appointment, I am sure that you would not meet the person or you would not enough time to present your company and products. So you must call your client or send a e-mail to him that you will visit him for what kinds of purposes. Like me, if I get an e-mail of appointment, I will reply to them that I can or not. And then, I will prepare for the meeting, such as company profile, the business needs, some information about our products etc. Even I have no free time for prepare, I make the appointment in my mind, so I will leave a free time for it. The reason that the appointment is so important is that the appointment will ask both of the purchasing representative and the supplier take out a free time to the meeting, so that they can have enough time to exchange the information they had.
Secondly, Preparation for the first meeting is also very important.
If say an appointment will create a free time to both of us, the preparation for the meeting will provide the material for discussing. Like me, I will prepare the first meeting with a new supplier through several sources. Firstly, I will search the information about this supplier via internet, such as Google, yahoo, Baidu, Sina etc. The internet would provide the site of this supplier(if he has), some articles or news contain the name of this supplier. It will help you to figure out of this supplier. Secondly, I will call some friends in this field and ask them provide some information about this supplier. In every industry, there are some people having the extensive information about the industry generally. They will tell you good news or bad news about this supplier, which must be confirmed with this supplier at the meeting. Thirdly, I often send a vendor check list to those suppliers who visits our company firstly. In this list, they must provide the detail information about their companies, such as the capacity of production, No. employee, sales amount, current clients, facilities etc. The salesmen also make the reference to the method which I mentioned above, such as internet, market survey via some industry channels etc. Sometimes, you can arrive the appointment early and you can ask the receptionist who must know the key person from low to up level. (Because she must transfer the calls to everyone in her company), so you can pump her for information, sometime you will get the inside scoop on your client.
Thirdly, what I want to say is the next appointment with the purchasing representative.
Whatever the result of the first meeting, you must make the next appointment with the person who interviewed you when the meeting finished. If you think there is an opportunity with this client, you must do it, furthermore, the next appointment would not be so later than 3 weeks, because the person will forget you after 3 weeks.
And last, I want to say that you should write a letter for thank to the person who interviewed you. It’s important to the person remember you.