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Be Prepared For Business Matchmaking Events

Feb 29, 2008
Just yesterday I participated in a business matchmaking event sponsored by the local SBA and prime contractors in the Houston area. These types of events of held across the country to help small business owners meet with decision makers in government agencies and local prime contractors. I have attended these events previously but did not get a lot of traction from the event that led to referrals and new business. So this year I decided upon a new approach.

My business is an instructional design and training development company that specializes in creating web-based training. Now in the matchmaking format you only have 15 minutes to give your sales pitch about your company, so you don't have the time or space to conduct a computer-based "show and tell". So I decided to prepare a "brag book" that consisted of screen shots of recent work that highlighted my company's capabilities.

I organized the information in a three-ring binder to show various tools and techniques that we used to save clients money and time in creating training products.

In addition to showing the normal introduction screens, I demonstrated how we can take a lackluster multiple choice test and add audio and graphics to make it more engaging to the learner.

Throughout the presentation I used key phrases and slogans about my company to help the organizational representatives shape at mental picture of how my company can fulfill a need in their company. You must remember that large companies are reaching out to small business owners. My goal was to create a niche service area that companies can easily tap into when they have quick turnaround projects.

My advice to you is to re-think how you are presenting your small business at matchmaking events or when you are on sales calls. Sometimes it is best to leave the computer behind, even if you are in the technology buisness and come prepare to show and tell with paper-based flyers and documents that "tell your story".

The result from my matchmaking experience was that four of nine companies told me that I was the best prepared company presentation and they were going to advocate for me set up appointments with their organiztions. You can have the same results!

Here is a quick checklist for your next sales call:
- Business cards with the basic information on the front and additional information on the backside, including business certifications, NAISC codes, and your company mission
- Company flyers with lots of pictures that represent successful projects you have completed
- Company Capability Statement that is directed to government agencies that contains specific codes and a narrative about how your company conforms to specific government requirements
- Three-ring binder "brag book" with screen shots of project work that tell a story of how you created workable solutions for clients

My last recommendation is that in the matchmaking event, you are the star. Don't start off by asking about them, this is your bully pulpit. Seize the opportunity to sell them on you and your company capabilities. Don't waste your time on a dialog - get in there and sell, sell, sell. Then ask for an appointment to come in and start a dialog.
About the Author
V. Karen Miller is the founder of Design2Train, an award-winning instructional design and training development company. Visit our website: Design2Train
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