Engaging with corporations in our new hybrid and virtual world can be tricky. The TOYOTA Supplier Diversity Team has tips for you to optimize your engagement with corporations in today’s hybrid work environments.
Remember knowing exactly how to prepare for business development and networking events? Load up a fresh stack of brochures, pack plenty of business cards and print out a map of the tradeshow floor, circling your top prospects. Then, fill your pockets with breath mints, put on your best smile (and maybe a more comfortable pair of shoes) and get out there!
No surprise that the same tactics don’t necessarily apply in today’s mix of socially-distanced events and online business gatherings. But no need to completely abandon your tried-and-true strategies for connecting with corporate purchasers and other prospective B-2-B partners in the digital era.
In fact, with a few technique tweaks and a little strategic rethinking, you may even discover better results coming your way.
First, seven practical tips to be sure you look and sound your best in a virtual meeting:
- Work from a quiet, carpeted room for best sound quality.
- Use a neutral background to avoid distractions.
- Check your lighting and consider adding LED lamps for even illumination.
- Use your laptop, not your phone, for more stable video and bring webcam up to eye-level.
- Test your technology, including your microphone, in advance to mitigate any “bugs.”
- Look at the camera, not the screen, when talking.
- Dress the part, from head to toe, to “feel” more official.
Plus, here are a few ideas and tips to consider before, during and after your “meeting” opportunity.
Focus on Building Relationships
Shifting your mindset from ‘sale’ to ‘connection’ puts you into a more comfortable people-first position. This generally allows you to ask more meaningful questions and better understand the corporation’s short-term and longer-term needs, opening the door to ongoing conversations.
No need to be embarrassed by asking current customers and colleagues for an introduction or a testimonial. People like the confidence that comes with doing business with people they know, even if that connection is one or two degrees away.
Understand the Buying Process
Remember that larger corporations usually have specialized processes in place for their purchasing. Research how the decision-making process works and make every effort to respect proper protocols as not to inadvertently disqualify yourself.
Sharpen Your Online & Social Presence
With less opportunities for in-person meetings, many companies turn to digital and social media to investigate potential suppliers. Take time to be sure your online business profiles are up to date, get into the habit of posting news and interesting insights and consider adding photos and graphics to your posts to tell your brand’s story more comprehensively. And be sure to check your website, making sure all links are working, details are current, and that information online aligns with what you want the company to know about you.
Be Prepared When Your Turn Comes
When you do get an appointment or chance to meet with buyers or corporate representatives—whether face-to-face, behind a mask or through the screen—make the most of the time and attention by being ready and responsive.
- Memorize a quick, one to two minute pitch about your company’s capabilities.
- Since you’ve done your homework about the company (you did…right?) have 2-3 questions ready to ask so you can discover more about their specific needs. Then, you’ll how to best tailor your message to meet their needs.
- Watch the clock and be respectful of time. Everyone’s probably working on the same tight schedule as you are and your courtesy will be appreciated and remembered.
- Be ready with a one-sheet document which clearly outlines your capabilities and expertise, key value proposition, certifications, and contact information to leave behind, send.
- Remember to get contact information from the people you speak with so you can follow up!
Want to test out these tips? Then please join us for the 2021 Toyota Opportunity Exchange— hosted virtually on Thursday, October 7. This event brings together future and current diverse suppliers to network with our existing Tier I Suppliers and explore potential opportunities for doing business together.
Attendance is free to certified WBEs. To register, please visit onetoyotasupplierdiversity.com.
TOYOTA Supplier Diversity Team
Learn more about Toyota’s Supplier Diversity Program: onetoyotasupplierdiversity.com