Buyer Negotiations

Brag About Your Consumer Demand

Before you are ready to pitch to a buyer, there are “must-haves” you should first have in place.  These “must-haves” are all components of a larger business case you are building to convince buyers they need your product in their assortment.  And these components take time to build, which is why it is important to address them now!

Add this “Must Have” to your business case to address the question, how does your product benefit retailers?

Common Mistakes People Make When Pitching To A Buyer!

Avoid these pitfalls during buyer appointments and you’ll be better off than 99% of your peers.

Tip 1:  Not walking through the store one last time and doing a quick homework refresher.  When I was a buyer for Target, nothing turned me off more than a vendor who showed up to meetings without having done their homework or step foot in my section of the store.  It was plainly obvious when vendors failed to know the brands I currently had on that shelf.

Tip 2: (SUPER IMPORTANT) Do not try to push more units to the retailer than they need.  It is dangerous to not understand the fine line between selling (shipping) as many units as possible versus shipping as many units as the store will sell.  When you’re pitching to a retailer, your first inclination is to sell as many units you can to lighten the load in your warehouse.  The buyer asks you for an order of 10,000 units and you jump for joy because it will clear out your old inventory.  Before you get too excited, think about the implications.

Tip 3:  Failing to address how your products will benefit the retailers’ business.  It was always a turn off to talk to potential vendors and hear, “Target is perfect for my product!”  Great.  Glad to hear.  But what is in it for me?  Don’t forget to answer this question within the first 10 minutes of your meeting. Revisit this point from an old blog.

Tip 4:  Do not misuse the buyer’s time.  If you have been given 30 minutes, then make sure your presentation can be delivered in 20 minutes with 10 minutes to spare for questions and discussion.  Get the important stuff out in the first 10 minutes. 

Tip 5: Bring enough samples!  We like to open the package, feel the product, play with and take it apart – and keep a few unopened samples to later play with at our desks or in the planogram (POG) room.

WOW Retail Buyers With The Sales Potential Of Your Product

Before you are ready to pitch to a buyer, there are “must-haves” you should first have in place.  These “must-haves” are all components of a larger business case you are building to convince buyers they need your product in their assortment.  And these components take time to build, which is why it is important to address them now!

Five Must-Have Items For Your Retail Pitch To Buyers

In short, the big question to answer before pitching to a buyer is – how does your product benefit retailers?  Here are the 5 “must-have” items needed to build your business case and prove why your product meets the needs of retailers.

  1. Demonstrate your product or brand will drive the retailers’ financial performance.  Buyers representing large retailers are goaled on the financial performance of their assortment.  This means they make buying decisions based on how it will earn them more revenues and profits. 
  2. Defining your consumer target.  Knowing who your target audience is – from their demographics to their attitudes, shopping behavior and preferences (this is when doing consumer research pays off) – helps you show the type of shopper your products will bring into the retailers’ store.  Align this with the retailers’ shopper strategy and you’ve checked another box in building a compelling business case.   In your pitch presentation, include a section that profiles your target consumer.
  3. Build your brand’s awareness.  Having a good product is not enough.  It needs to be backed by strong branding and effective marketing.  Good branding lends itself to future line extensions which give buyers’ confidence that this buyer-vendor relationship has longevity and can drive future business.
  4. Mitigate risk.  Buyers are risk averse, especially anything that may erode sales or damage their stores’ reputation.  In addition to mitigating sales risk through consignment deals, consumer testing, having a proven sales record, it is also important to make sure your product meets product safety and quality testing criteria.
  5. Spend money.  But be prepared to order hundreds of product samples before your first order.  

What Types of Retail Pitches Are There And When Do I Use Them?

This week, I’ve been training my new consultant, who is FANTASTIC by the way. And her insightful questions have unveiled topics that I haven’t covered in my blogs and should!

So without further ado, here are the different types of retail pitches any product entrepreneur will find themselves using at any point in time. I’ll explain why you need to know these at the end.

Tier 1: “Elevator Pitch” Retail Story.  Objective: To gain the initial interest of retail buyers. Length: 30 seconds

This might be what you use at a trade show when you greet a buyer, sales rep or distributor that visits your booth. Or what you say when you get a buyer on the phone or come across the store manager in a boutique.

Tier 2: “Coffee Pitch” Retail Story. Objective: You have now piqued the buyer’s interest after the Elevator Pitch and have bought a few more minutes with the buyer to discuss further. Imagine you are having a quick informal discussion over coffee or you’ve bought a few more minutes of the buyer’s time during that initial phone call or trade show booth visit. Length: 5 minutes.

Tier 3: “Presentation Pitch” Retail Story. Objective: You have earned a formal appointment with the retail buyer and will now go through a longer, more detailed Retail Story. In this format, you are making a formal business case for how you’ll benefit retailers. Length: 30 minutes

Finally, why is it important to differentiate these different pitch types in your proverbial ‘sales tool kit’? You have to select the right level of information for the situation you are in. Obviously. But you’ll be surprised how often buyers get turned off because the right information is not succinctly presented to them. Us buyers are impatient folks who get pitched to constantly.

4 Secrets to Pitching Your Product

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.


Essential Tips Once You Have Secured A Meeting With A Buyer!

Once you have secured a meeting with a buyer, the first thing you should do is jump up and down in excitement!  What an accomplishment! Not many make it to this stage.  All the more reason to over-prepare.  Here are a few things to add to your checklist:

1. Evaluate whether you want to hire a vendor rep experienced with that retailer.  They will have the inside scoop like margin requirements, know the process and protocol, have pre-existing relationships, and access to Point of Sales (POS) data.

2. Scrub your numbers.  And by this, I mean 1) your costs and 2) your volume forecast.  Both will make or break whether you’ll get that coveted purchase order.

3. Do your homework on that retailer. Don’t show up without having read up on current news and annual report or failing to walk down that buyers’ aisles and make observations.

4. Practice your pitch and presentation.  Don’t have this meeting be the first or second time you have run through your pitch and presentation.  Practice in front of friends and family.  Run it by a colleague or business associate.  Rehearse with someone in the retail industry.  Practice in the shower or while driving.  You want to sound confident, assured and at ease when presenting.  Buyers get their confidence in your products from you.  The more you practice, the less deodorant you’ll need.  So practice until you are perfect!