Getting to the Right Point of Entry | NAWBO

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Getting to the Right Point of Entry

 

Getting to the right point of entry

By J. Lenora Bresler, J.D., SPHR, ASC

A report from Go for the Greens Conference September 19-20, 2013

Small woman-owned businesses dream of getting major contracts with large retailers and service providers, but it is often difficult getting “in.”   Panelists at the recent NAWBO-sponsored Go for the Greens conference explained how to be successful. 

Show what you do; tell a story.  Many services and even some goods can be complicated to explain, but you must find a way to crystallize in 20 seconds what you are selling.  A story is often the best framework in which to do that.

Explain yourself in terms of a solution to a problem the company did not know it had.  Most companies know the issues they are having and are already looking for a solution.  They often have already decided how they are going to address a particular issue and may even have a vendor in mind.  Panelists said that when they are surprised, shocked even, by a potential vendor’s citing a problem they have NOT hitherto thought about, it makes them pay attention.  Everyone is afraid of overlooking something, of having an issue sneak up and bite them.  If your warning is credible, you can jump to the front of the line.

Do research before calling, and if you are calling a second time, remember whatever was said to you in the first conversation.  Panelists said that potential vendors can quickly become persons non gratis if they call repeatedly saying a script, not heeding things that have been said before or information that could easily be obtained through website research. 

If a company has a women and minority business department, be sure to do whatever paperwork they tell you is required to “get in the system.”  Then be sure you explain to the individual exactly what you do and can do for the company.  The individual in the wmb department is likely NOT your ultimate best contact, but they can help you “get on the list,” which is often a prerequisite for any further contact, and they can also forward information to the proper person within the company who can actually buy your good or service.

Because your information may be forwarded, create a one-page e-mail succinctly describing your business and what you offer.  This will make it more likely that your information is indeed forwarded to the appropriate person.