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‘Too Busy to Make a Sale?’

20 June 2017 - Rosemary French

I remember all too well how hard it is to run a business. I remember what it is like to delay paying a bill, because I knew that my corporate customers would do the same to me.

To avoid libel, I will not name those customers but I still refuse to cross the threshold of one retail corporate that rejected a large delivery which was on time and as booked.  They said their warehouse was too full and delivery would not be possible for at least two weeks!  Their problem and their incompetence but my company’s downfall.  I had a back to back bank letter of credit which could not be paid and the company was forced into voluntary liquidation and 58 staff, including me, were out of a job.   Older and wiser, of course, I realise my mistake.   Don’t put all your eggs into a small number of baskets, no matter how attractive it is to be the preferred supplier of a retail corporate. 

I should have been less concerned with the vanity of supplying a big retailer and more concerned with spreading our risk by finding new customers.   This is where programmes like the Gatwick Diamond Meet the Buyers can deliver solutions.   The programme offers a series of free seminars and workshops over a year which help SME’s to understand the peculiarities of supplying large businesses.  The many policies they need in place, how to pitch, how to follow up and so on.   The Meet the Buyer team then matches their products and services to the current purchasing requirements of around 40 large organisations and organise face to face meetings at the big Event in October.  What an opportunity for SME’s to get in front of potential new Buyers to start the sales process.

We have no problem getting the Buyers in place.  They are very keen to buy regionally and constantly complain that they do not know who can supply them locally. On the other hand, we fail to maximise the number of potential suppliers.  We always have periods when the buyers have no supplier appointments during the day which is such a wasted opportunity.

The free seminars are well attended, and the SME’s do have the products the Buyers want to buy.   When we ask why they do not want to meet a potential Buyer that has a current contract, we are often told that they are too busy, there is no one else they can send or they do not want to give up a whole day.  They do not say they are not prepared to pay the £125 to get in front of a welcoming Buyer.   They could get up to 10 appointments so that would be just £12.50 to open a conversation that could transform their sales.

This year, the Gatwick Diamond Meet the Buyers programme has been widened to include Kent, East Sussex, all of Surrey and West Sussex potential suppliers at the discounted rate. We have also added an international sales opportunities dimension and a post event seminar.  We discovered that while Meet the Buyers has matched and delivered around £22.5m business since 2010, many SME’s missed out because they did not know how to follow up.  We are told ‘I know we met the Buyer but he/ she never phoned me back’.  Gosh if only making a sale was that easy! If they had taken that attitude after a first date they would never get fixed up!!  So, our final seminar of the programme will help SME’s follow up on hot leads.  If you are a business which wants to supply corporates from sectors as varied as Canon UK, Thakeham Homes, Gatwick’s many tier one and two suppliers such as Marco airport facilities group, even the Home Office and the RSPCA  then check out

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