Once you have identified retailers who make good prospective wholesale accounts in your local area, set an appointment for a meeting, and get ready to present your line.
If you’ve read our article DIY Wholesaling – Part One and decided that you would like to try to open some local wholesale accounts on your own, you have learned how to prospect. You have visited stores within an hour’s drive and made your hot list of the ones that fit your collection best.
Then, you have started contacting store buyers and managers in an effort to get appointments to sit down with them and show your line. This takes time and patience, although sometimes you can get lucky and easily set up a meeting. Be persistent. If you end up “closing” (getting orders from) 10 – 20% of your prospects, you have done well. That means that most stores either won’t respond, or will give you a “No.” Hearing “No” isn’t a bad thing; it means that you can take them off your list and focus on the store buyers who do have an interest. It’s part of the process.
When you get that appointment, take samples of your work, unless they are too big to carry, and take your marketing materials with you. You will need a line sheet, and order forms. And you must know your terms. What will your minimum opening order be? Make sure your wholesale prices are set, and that they are profitable for you. Have your materials organized before you go into an appointment. And when you do walk in, be ready to write an order.
What do you need to know before you talk to a buyer? Well, you should plan to be consultative in your selling approach. Know what your bestsellers are. Know how to suggest a good display that will make impact in a store and have ideas of collections that work together well, and help to cross-sell other pieces. You may even want to have access to display materials (from a supplier) if needed by the store to show your work. These may or may not be needed in your appointment, but you will want to be able to answer questions that come up.
Before your meeting, you should be very clear on what you will negotiate, and what the bottom line is for you. If they place a wholesale order, would you be willing to consign one large piece in addition? Are you prepared with an answer if they ask for an exclusive? And how big does their order have to be to earn that exclusive? When would you be able to ship? Do you know how to estimate shipping costs?
Besides actual samples, you might have photos of your work in a display, or even on models if it’s wearable – and show them in an album or on your iPad to make things easy. Also, be prepared to talk about your own local sales activities in the area, if there is concern that you will compete with the store. And always be aware that you should never undercut your retailers.
The first sales call you make might be a little nerve-wracking, but this is actually a terrific way to learn how to relate to and deal with buyers. If you are pursuing wholesaling, it’s essential that you get this experience.
What happens after the order is placed? Read our next article, DIY Wholesaling – Part Three.