You have probably heard of trade fairs and exhibitions and you may even have attended one – they are big gatherings where suppliers pay a fee to rent a space and promote their company.
Whether or not your company frequently attends these exhibitions, the ones you should attend are the ‘Meet the Supplier’ exhibitions. These can come in a range of guises. They have been known as ‘Industry Days’, ‘Clarification Days’ and a host of imaginative, descriptive titles and they usually take place to bring buyers and suppliers together in procurement by tender, rather than the traditional buyer-seller format.
‘Meet the Supplier’ exhibitions or days are a valuable way to come into personal contact with your potential buyer. Whilst the PQQ and tender documentation are essential for your buyer to get to know the ins and outs of your company from financial standing to management structure, meeting in person can be an enlightening experience for both buyers and sellers. It may be that, as a supplier, you wish to clarify something without going down the ‘bid clarification’ route. This means you can get your query clarified directly with the buyer, if they are willing, without giving anything away to your competitors. It is also an opportunity to discuss the tender with a real person, rather than structuring questions in the form of email or letter which is not always the most effective means of communication.
Often these events are not related directly to a particular tender opportunity. A procuring party may hold or attend such an event at the beginning of the financial year, for example, in order to get to know a wide range of suppliers. In addition, there are collective exhibitions, such as ‘Meet the Buyer 2011’ on 9th June, 2011 in Glasgow or the Public Procurement Show 2011 at the Excel in London, also in June. This is a hugely valuable forum for companies that do not restrict tendering to one area as they can introduce you to a wide range of buyers from both the public and private sectors. It is also the perfect opportunity to obtain the contact details of the right people to deal within each organisation.
Overall, ’Meet the Buyer’ events are a fantastic opportunity to promote your business to potential buyers, learn about up-coming opportunities for tenders, network and build relationships. You will also have the opportunity to see some of your competitors in the flesh. And since not every company can or will attend, it may also put you in a winning position before you’ve even received the PQQ.