How to Sell Your Product to Large Retailers
7 Secrets of Successful Selling to Retailers
By Yohan Jacob
So you've invented the next great gadget, and you're sure it'll be a hit. In fact, you've got cartons of inventory stored in every room of your house that you're itching to sell. Your friends and family said they "love it", but how can you get retailers to "love it" enough to place an order with you?
Below are 7 secrets of successfully selling to retailers. While most of the secrets are common sense, it amazes me how many entrepreneurs, inventors, and small manufacturers trying everything except these 7 secrets.
1. Know the retailer you want your products in
Not every retailer will buy your product. Most retailers have a niche that they fill. Find out which type of customer will buy your product. Is a bargain shopper or an upscale trendsetter? If you sell low-end kitchen gadgets, perhaps a mass merchant like Walmart or K-Mart would be a better fit for your products versus Bed Bath and Beyond or Macys.
2. Know your product and why retail buyers should purchase it
Why should a retail buyer buy your product? Is it price, features, or something else? Be prepared to thoroughly discuss the features & benefits of your product, how it is better or different than similar products on the market and why a retailer would want to carry it. Without knowing what single thing differentiates your product from the thousands of similar products out there, you are just wasting your time in getting a retail buyer's attention.
3. Know your program before calling a retail buyer
I'm talking about things like order minimums, "floor and ceiling costs", suggested retail price, pre-paid freight versus collect, packaging specs, payment terms, returns to vendor, etc. Retail buyers will ask you some very tough questions and you need to know the details of your program, forwards and backwards.
4. Know what marketing or sales promotions you will provide to drive sales
If you think your job is done once the retailer gives you the first purchase order, you are unfortunately mistaken. Don't worry... a lot of small vendors forget this as well. Your post-sales job is to help retailers sell through the inventory that they just bought from you. As the retailer sells through your inventory, what do they do next? They buy MORE from you. Whether it is funding in-store promotions or simply listing the retailer's URL on your website, driving more customers to your retailers is a MUST-DO action step.
5. Know what type of retail packaging will fit on the retailer's shelf
Retailers will want to know what type of packaging your product comes in because they almost always have very limited space to work with - is it a bag with hanging hook or is it something they will have to put on a shelf?
Big-box retailers (like Target, Walmart, Sears, etc) will definitely want to see the product AND the packaging. They are VERY specific about their store image, their customer and their available "real estate". They want your product in their hands for review before proceeding any further
You don't necessarily HAVE to provide samples-but be ready to if they request them. Some retailers need to see, feel and smell a product before carrying it. It is acceptable to charge for samples, especially if they are big ticket items or difficult to ship.
6. Know what press clips, awards or accolades your product has received
You will want to show retail buyers these things because oftentimes, these things will SELL your product for you. Favorable press shows a retailer that your product is "worthy" of being on their shelves, that it has real salability. Retail buyers hate to buy a product that has been untested in the "real world" or has not received any press, awards or accolades.
7. Know if you want to handle the sales function yourself or outsource it to someone else
While most owners of small companies think they are capable of selling to retailers, in actuality, they cannot. Taking care of a retail account once the sale has been completed is just as hard as the sell itself to the retailer. If you are not comfortable with sales, consider outsourcing this function to an independent sales rep. Usually, independent sales reps work on commission-typically 10-15% of any sales they land for you. You can usually find sales reps on industry trade websites, trade publication ads or through word of mouth.
To learn more secrets in successfully selling to retailers, visit http://www.retailbound.com.
Copyright 2012 Yohan Jacob All rights reserved. To reprint this article, you must use the article in its entirety, along with the resource box below.
Yohan Jacob is known internationally as the Retail Coach. A noted author, retail consultant and retail coach, Yohan shows entrepreneurs, inventors, and small suppliers how to stand apart and get their products sold to retailers in a competitive marketplace. Visit him online at http://www.retailbound.com.