April 25, 2014
Here’s a secret. When a buyer says “No”, it really means “Not right now.” It’s not because the buyer is playing coy or misleading you. He/she just doesn’t have a foreseeable need for your line right now. Your job upon hearing “no” is to dig a little deeper to figure out why your line isn’t a fit for this retailer and to obtain permission to contact him/her again at a future date.
So if you hear a “No”, sense lukewarm feelings about your line, or just plain don’t hear back…take the following steps:
1) Ask the buyer what his or her concerns are. Is it product-related (pricing, margins, packaging)? Is it an issue of timing or the wrong buying cycle? Is it concerns about the category? Is it because of insufficient marketing support? There are many reasons your product line isn’t a fit right now. Your job is to understand what needs to change in order for the buyer to reconsider your line.
2) LISTEN. You’d be surprised how many companies/vendors fail to listen to the reasons given by a buyer. Instead of being defensive or trying to argue or change the buyers mind right then and there, just pause and listen. Take notes. Tell them you’ll look into their feedback. Be receptive.
3) Ask for permission to get back to them after you’ve investigated their feedback. A buyer will be interested to know if you are able to come back with a solution to the concerns they articulated. This allows you to keep the lines of communication open. And shows your ability to be a thoughtful business partner!
4) When the moment is right and if you are able to do it, offer a guaranteed sale. This means offering to take back your inventory at your expense if it doesn’t sell. This shows tremendous confidence in your product line. Just make sure that when you do get shelf placement on a guaranteed sale, that you establish sell-through expectations up front and then nail those expectations. Invest in in-store or external marketing to ensure you hit those sales projections. And when you do hit those expectations, you can enjoy the satisfaction of having proven yourself and think (not say!), “I told you so!”
5) Sweeten the deal: Offer them a unique assortment not found elsewhere. In other words, extend a limited time exclusivity on a special color, design, pack size, packaging, etc. Be smart though…don’t commit to exclusives that will preclude you from being successful at other retail accounts!