Store owner David Fuss of Eco Chic in Plymouth, Massachusetts once worked as a sales rep in the giftware industry, and has seen both sides of a sale. He shares some business tips for artists.
Want to give your sales reps the best chance of closing every sale? Or are you calling on retailers yourself and need advice?
As a small business owner coming from a wholesale rep background, I am amazed to see what happens on the other side of the counter. My days are packed full with customers, product allocation, paperwork and daily store duties. This means my time is precious.
In order to succeed, I need two things: willing customers and great selling product. In order to have the latter of the two, I need to spend time researching (mostly via internet) and meeting with company reps.
Here are some tips for reps and wholesalers when selling their wares to retailers:
1. Know your product! I am always amazed by unprofessional reps who walk in my store and tell me they have a really hot/bestselling item and when I ask for details, they don’t know a thing about it! If you have a “bestseller,” make sure your reps know the price, minimum quantity, material, and average turn (number of times product will sell through in a year.)
2. Prepare for the appointment by doing your homework. Visit the store, surf their website, and if possible talk to staff. Take this initial knowledge and build a presentation around it, but leave room for back-up plans.
3. The first meeting is always crucial. Your customer needs great selling product and you need to prove you have great selling items in a very limited time frame. Use the first 10-20 minutes to ask open-ended questions. Take notes and adjust your presentation based on what you can formulate from the initial conversation. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your initial presentation.
4. Paraphrase the initial conversation back to them (do not “parrot-phrase”). This will help you and the buyer land on the same page.
5. Your customer is eager to find new product. Your job is to help them achieve that goal. Become an important asset by offering great product and don’t be afraid to offer advice on other product that will help their business, even if it comes from a competitor.
6. If you want to control the “real estate” in the store, then you must offer a buy back or exchange program. Many companies do not see the value of this. I refuse to give any rep or company control over the merchandise in my store, because I am the one taking full risk. The only time I relinquish that control is when the rep or company will take on the risk responsibility. In reality, I have returned less than one quarter of a percent on any product that is company controlled. It is always a winning situation.
7. Always offer ways to highlight/ merchandise your product. In order to move product in my store, it MUST be properly merchandised. Offer up signs, fixtures and Point of Purchase displays. This will help product stand out and increase your chances of acquiring better real estate in the store.
8. Offer incentives that will intrigue the buyers to purchase more. For example:
- $1000 receives a free fixture
- $1500 receives free fixture and Net 60
- $2000 receives free fixture, Net/ 60 and 10% freight cap
9. Always follow up with your buyers. I have dropped multiple lines because the rep or wholesaler has never followed up. A common misconception is the fear of calling on a customer. Remember, store owners are always looking for great selling product. If you have that product, then reach out to them. They will thank you!
Eco Chic ~ where eco-friendly meets fashionably chic!