Guest Blog written by Tom Larsen – Managing Partner at TD Back Office (, a B2B service company that helps retail-oriented product manufacturers managed their back office operations (ie. Order Management, Inventory Management, Sales Support, etc….). Tom can be reached at 530-913-9334, by email at or visit his website
Every person has a patience level with every business meeting as to how much time to invest to serve their needs. Buyers are no different. They willingly invest as much time as they deem a product or relationship will need to determine or advance the value that relationship adds to their efforts. Additionally, buyers are always aware that the less time for the biggest bang is the goal.
In that reality in your initial meeting, you can not expect buyers to willingly give your 1 SKU or 30 SKU product 45 minutes to hear all about the beginnings of the company, the details of how it is made and the thoughtfulness you have put into each and every product. Not in the first meeting anyway.
To avoid buyer fatigue, your first mission with a buyer is to simplify your business and product range to exactly what will get them to understand it in very little time AND want to hear more. Keep in mind, in the store, the consumer will spend less than 8 seconds looking at your packaged product and making a “touch it” or “move-on” decision. Retail buyers will give you more than 8 seconds, but not much more. Here is a formula for avoiding Buyer Fatigue.
Boil down your initial over-arching presentation to 2-3 minutes on why you exist and why this particular buyer should care. (Secret insight – it’s about making money for the store.)
Presuming you can get enough interest for them to stick with you on why you exist, it’s time to distill your product range down to the most compelling items. At this point, most people then launch into why the product is so cool for the consumer and travel down a dirt road full of pot holes. Don’t go there. Instead pick the 3 topmost reasons you are in business and then choose the 3 best examples of those reasons as expressed in your product range AND how the consumer will discover those same elements when the product is on the shelf or in their hands. Reinforce your story through your products. The products are an extension of the business.
Ten minutes – tops for 3 products. That’s 15 minutes total.
You’re saying “wait I have 20 products and I can’t get it all done in just 15 minutes”. And therein lies my point. If the buyer isn’t enthusiastic to continue after 15 minutes, you haven’t made the compelling presentation. A TED talk is 15 minutes – OR LESS. The buyer will check out. And there you have the initial meeting version of buyer fatigue.
If I am a buyer, I am exclusively thinking about the connection between your presentation and what the consumer will see in the store when they look at the packaged product. The greater the connection between your presentation and the packaged product, the more enthusiastic the buyer becomes.
Use the first 5 minutes to frame and define your Company. Use 10 minutes to call attention to products that define the entire range – “if you get these, you’ll get everything else”. Use the rest of whatever time the buyer allows you to be about the buyer and what the buyer wants to talk about.
Running through a catalog, doing product demos, putting out 20 more SKUs, that may or may not be necessary, but, should never be assumed to BE the presentation. Show and tell is what kids do in the classroom. Show and tell should not be how you start a long lasting mutually beneficial professional relationship.