08-08-2017 09:05 AM
I went to a supplier diversity event last night so I'm getting used to how these events operate. It's like speed dating but with only limited dates possible so you have to hustle and prospect to get any positive connections.
Anyone do this to gain a foothold in a company and care to share any tips?
08-08-2017 10:57 AM
I've attended several supplier diversity events.
1. Don't ever answer the "What does your company do?" with an answer like, "Whatever you need. We do everything." Any procurement or program manager will quickly find an excuse to excuse themselves and find someone else to meet. You are wasting their time.
2. Don't ever assume that since you have a certified M/W/V/SDV/BE that buyers will begin knocking on your door. You still have to do the work to gain business. All the certification provides is the ability for the buyer to report back that their percentage of diversity spend is x% of the total spend. Certifications provide the ability to segment.
3. Target companies that focus on Federal/state/local contracts. Think of defense companies or road construction companies. Those are the ones that have requirements/goals of diversity spend written into their contracts.
4. Does your company work with diversity suppliers that could be considered Tier-2 diversity spend? Explain that to your prospect. Often, Tier-2 spend can be rolled up to total diversity spend. Again, very important for Federal contracting work.
08-09-2017 06:19 AM
Another thing I'm learning is that the SD or procurement people have to feel comfortable with you to even have them introduce your business to their ultimate decision makers. This means you go to as many of these as possible and keep seeing the same ones to give them the warm fozzies. It's similar to dating in a way.
I've started this and met with them initially in June but now I have to keep going especially to the paid ones(the higher the entrance fee the better) and seek the same people out.
08-09-2017 06:53 AM
Absolutely. You can't just go to one and expect to walk away with a scheduled meeting or worse, a PO. If you meet a procurement manager or an SBLO, then it is a success. You've made a connection. Continue going to these events. They will pay off.
Cummins, an international manufacturer of large-scale diesel engines, continually supports diversity-owned suppliers. They just recently were inducted into the billion dollar roundtable (https://www.billiondollarroundtable.org/). The SBLO at Cummins regularly attends supplier diversity events. For a long time, this person always ran into a guy who sells promotional items. He made himself stand out because he always wore a purple sport coat. Cummins already had ample suppliers of promotional items and didn't need more. one day they were in a pinch and needed promotional items quickly for an event and they had just ran out of items. The SBLO was contacted and she quickly called the "guy in the purple jacket". He bailed them out and has become a regular supplier to Cummins.
08-09-2017 08:20 AM
That's a brilliant story.
I've just started going to these and I am taking my stand up background routine to these and standing out because of it!
And it seems to be working.
Thanks for sharing!