Missed opportunities?

Real salesmen stick until the buyer has used up his last ‘No!

Those Meet the Merchant/Supplier speed dating events are a really good idea, aren’t they?

Where else can you get to see between eight and 12 really important customers in the space of an afternoon? Even if the appointments are only 15 minutes long, they allow for introductions where no contact already exists, or a springboard to future meetings and business benefits.

Or do they?

Sitting next to a merchant managing director at the Cemco Lightside dinner last week I was struck by his assertion that of the meetings he had had with suppliers over the two days, “at least 50% of them will bring no follow up from the supplier whatsoever”. A quick poll round a few of the other tables told me the same thing.

Now this particular md is one who prides himself on being open with and available to talk to suppliers. He understands the benefits of dialogue and working together. So I was really surprised when he said that, even when he has specifically requested that suppliers call him after the Meet the Merchant to follow up, most of them won’t bother.

Another merchant told me that the standard format for Meet the Merchants is: “We sit down with the suppliers and go through the things they said they were going to do last year. And most of the time we are saying ‘ well you didn’t do that and you didn’t do that and you said you would do that but, hey look, you haven’t’.”

Now obviously this is just the merchants’ viewpoint. I’m fairly sure that if I were to talk to suppliers they would say much the same thing about things being promised but not delivered. A look at today’s Brickonomics blog from the wonderful Brian Green in Building magazine shows that less-than fully proactive marketing is endemic throughout the construction industry. And I’m the first one to put my hand up and admit to occasionally following up things that I said I would do.

Sometimes, whatever your best intentions, other jobs, life and well, just stuff, gets in the way.

But how many opportunities are we missing with those non-follow-ups? How much business could be out there if we just went that bit further to get it?

With the market in the state is has been over the past two years, we surely need to follow-up every lead we can, chase up every enquiry and make every phone call we can, just to ensure that the business comes our way rather than someone else’s.

The government may be banging on about the fact that the recession is over but everyone in construction knows the truth – we’re not out of the woods and won’t be for a good while. And if we don’t try and take advantage of very single opportunity we can, it will take even longer.

Right. Off to tackle the to-do list.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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