Prelude 2: You Didn't Know When to Stop

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The pitch slap.

That stinging, post-pitch strike from a retailer that you didn’t see coming, whether it lands the day after your meeting or several months later.

Maybe they just said no or left you hanging forever.

Either way, you're determined to make sure it never happens again!

In this three-part series, I outline three behaviors that, whether perpetrated by your internal teams or third-parties, will leave you wide open.

 

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The following is Part II in  Carol Spieckerman's series for retail suppliers: Three Little-Known Preludes to a Pitch Slap.

Read Part I: You Got Flattered by Chatter

It’s been said that the great artist is the one who knows when to stop. The same can be said of great retail suppliers. Unfortunately, in my experience, many don’t stop, particularly when it comes to preparing for early-stage meetings with retailers.

Too many companies have conditioned themselves to believe that the bigger the opportunity, the more everything has to grind to a halt to pursue it. The days and weeks leading up to a meeting are havoc – people are pulled away from other projects and as team members from multiple departments contribute, the presentation gets bigger and more disjointed. Ironically, what actually matters most, rehearsing talking points and defining outcomes, is often thrown out the window.

I call this “kitchen sink syndrome” and have found that the companies that are most self-conscious about their value propositions are often the worst offenders. They’re more comfortable cutting and pasting capabilities, case studies, and creative elements into a mish-mash menu of options than working to reduce things down to a clear, retailer-centric value proposition. In truth, most attempt to cover every possibility and hope that the retailer will whittle things down for them.

Companies that reinvent the wheel and throw everything but the kitchen sink at every prospect, or those that let their brand partners do it, have three major problems on their hands:

 

  • They often can’t go after more than one major opportunity at a time because the resource drain prevents it.
  • They routinely exceed retailers’ meeting time limits with little to show for it (see Part I for more on this).
  • They are perceived by retailers as tedious, disorganized, and even desperate.

Bottom line: when complexity takes over, you’re vulnerable to a pitch slap. Worse yet, when this becomes a habit over time, your business development process will come to a screeching halt.

Early-stage meetings with retailers are opportunities to start a conversation, build credibility, and assess mutual fit. The majority of your resources should be deployed in creating follow-up propositions, once you have buy-in and a clearer path to next steps.

In the meantime, head off the pitch slap and unclog your business development pipeline by knowing when to stop.

Think retail program decision-making is a level playing field? Think again! Learn more in Part III: You’re Out of the Loop.

Read Part III: You're in the Dark