The day of a customer meeting can be stressful. You have a number of things you need to accomplish and you need to be in the right frame of mind. When you have a good list and checked it twice it is time to focus on your state of mind.
I like to visit stores before a meeting with a category manager. It helps me put things in perspective prior to the meeting. It can be easy to get tunnel vision and only see your products and what you are trying to accomplish. When you visit stores you get the consumers view and you also see what your customers are trying to accomplish.
Visit your customer’s stores and their competitors if you have time. Take a moment to understand the overall message and where you fit. Look for new initiatives and changes in the store set up. If you see a new pricing program or signage take note.
Once you are satisfied that you understand where you fit within the overall message, walk your department(s). Look for your items and your competitor’s items too. Remember this is only one store, so if you are out of stock or not where you should be it might not be widespread. The issue is you need to know what is going on. Look for ideas that you might want to discuss or test with your category manager. You should also look for initiatives they might have been responsible for.
Before you leave the store take a moment to reflect on what you have seen. I like to flip through my presentation and think about what is happening in the store and how it applies to my message during the meeting. Obviously you aren’t going to re-write the presentation but this is an opportunity to reinforce what you are doing and how it ties in to what your customer is doing.
Make notes on pages where you saw things in the store you want to discuss. It never hurts to mention some programs your category manager was working on or that you had discussed in the past. Don’t patronize them but it never hurts to mention a few positives.
Now that you have had a chance to walk the store, you should be in the right frame of mind. Check your list again just to make sure and you should be ready for a memorable meeting that gets results.