After The Show: How Do You Follow Up With Retail Buyers?
Your brand is exhibiting at a trade show and FINALLY, a retail buyer from a major retailer drops by your booth. You’re excited and nervous. You answer their questions, give them your marketing material and order form and ask for an order. They tell you they’ll have to review your materials, along with all the other booths they have visited, and will contact you if they plan to order.
Awesome! But NOW WHAT? How will you cultivate this buyer relationship? How will you turn this and other leads into future orders? And lots of them!
Follow these tips to keep the momentum going. But more importantly, heed this advice to demonstrate to buyers you have what it takes to be a good and credible business partner. In other words, you are solution-oriented and a good listener.
- Follow-up so they remember why they liked you when they first met you at the show. Check out some sample follow-up letters we have written to retail buyers that have turned into business!
- Follow-up with solution-oriented answers to buyers questions. During the show, you engaged retail buyers in questions that helped you determine the business problem they are trying to solve. Maybe you learned their “problem” was trying to attract a new shopper segment to their store. Or maybe you learned their “problem” is trying to grow their average retail markup. Or maybe you heard them discuss their new push in bringing in more innovative products. Whatever that “problem” is, include in your follow-up with each buyer a solution to their individual problem.
- Convert a soft “no” to a “yes” by implementing feedback. Maybe during the show, you received feedback from retailers that you pricing was too high. Or your packaging was not right for their stores. They may have given you a soft “no” here, but this is an opportunity to convert to a “yes” by following up with a solution to their feedback. First, take this feedback to heart and decide whether you will act upon it. If you do, once you have revised your submission, email or call the buyer back to let them know you have listened and would like to schedule a meeting so you can walk them through the updates. Tell them how you listened to their feedback and made adjustments or mitigated their concern. Be careful not to sound defensive! Make sure you come across as appreciative and open-minded about their feedback – and this will go a long way in establishing a good relationship with them.
- Instill a sense of urgency with PR activity or newsworthy updates. If you do not hear back from the buyer after the above, fret not. Sometimes it is a matter of timing. Follow up once every 6 weeks, but only with newsworthy updates. For example, with upcoming media or PR activity that will drive awareness of your product and potential foot traffic to retail stores. Or, with updates on new major retailers that have picked up distribution of your products. Or, with new product launches. All of these updates pique buyers’ interests, builds urgency, and shows that your product has sales potential.
And treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. Your goal at the trade show should not be to get as many orders as possible, but to meet as many buyers as possible, make a good first impression and build relationships. Retail buying is a process that happens over time (hence, the marathon analogy).