Your products are finally off the production line and ready to sell to retailers. But where do you begin? Or maybe your brand is successful in regional retailers but you can’t seem to get your foot into big box retailers. The truth is, it’s not enough to have an amazing product. You also need to have a solid business plan to present to retail buyers.
1. Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” A common mistake is to focus on what the retailer can do for your product. Expand your thinking! A key to capturing a buyer’s interest is showing them how your product meets her financial needs and strategic vision. Financial needs are usually related to revenue or profit margin. Strategic vision can be corporate goals or growth strategies.
2. Mitigate retailer’s risks. Retailers are risk averse. They worry about your product not arriving in time, unproductive inventory when your product does not sell, competitors taking market share, leaving sales on the table, and so much more. When approaching retailers, it’s important you have anticipated possible risks to the retailer and have a viable solution to mitigate their fears.
3. Don't be a know-it-all. You know your product best. However, you don’t know the retailer’s business as well as they do. It’s wonderful to come across as passionate, but you must also be genuine and likable, and you should actively listen to what the retailer has to say. If you don’t know something, then don’t pretend you do; simply let them know you will find the answer and come back to them. If you demonstrate these key negotiation skills, the retailer is far more likely to want to work with you because you have “heard” and then demonstrated that you are prepared to meet his/her needs. Relationships do matter, so work hard to cultivate this one.
4. Be prepared. You have managed to secure a meeting with a buyer. Awesome! Now the real work begins. And you must be prepared for this meeting. You have done your homework by walking this particular retailer’s store shelves so you know what he/she is currently stocking and how your product is unique or superior.