August 4, 2013
5 mistakes to avoid:
1. Don’t fail to walk through the store one last time. And Google everything you can about that retailer. Buyers want do business with representatives that are knowledgeable about both their store and their business. And it is painfully obvious when a potential vendor hasn’t done their homework on the store or merchandise assortment or other retailers. Don’t be clueless about the retailer’s strategy and priorities, pricing, assortment, competitive set, store organization, timelines, and jargon. Establishing credibility is important, and this is the easiest way to influence how buyers perceive you.
2. Don’t inflate volume or sales forecasts. Be accurate. Base it on sales history. It will *not* impress a buyer to see a high sales forecast if you can’t back it up with reasonable assumptions. If you feel self-conscious about your low forecast, bolster it with a proposal for how you will grow those sales (marketing support, in-store promotions, etc.) and what sales lift that marketing activity will generate.
3. Don’t squander your time. If you have 30-minutes, plan for the meeting to start 5 minutes late after introductions and pleasantries, then earmark 15 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for interruptions/Q&A. That allotted time will be over faster than you expect, so be prepared. Use tools to make presenting more efficient (e.g., Retailer Pitch Deck, One-page executive summary, mock-up POS displays and samples, etc.)
4. Don’t forget to discuss how your brand will drive retailer’s needs.Address how your brand drives sales, profitability and foot traffic in that retailer’s stores. I can’t tell you how many times vendors (the not-so-savvy ones) tell buyers “Your store will do x, y, and z for my product.” No way. Tell buyers what your product will do for their stores.
5. Not listening! Know when to talk, when to shut up, and when to back away. Constantly badgering the buyer to hear your point is not going to win you points. Know how to accept “no” or “not now”, probe and listen to the reasons why, and then ask for another chance. Don’t get defensive and try to change the buyer’s mind in that same meeting. Come back to that buyer once you’ve considered and incorporated their feedback. It shows you listen, have strong communication skills and would make a good business partner.