How NOT to Sell to Major RetailersSheridan Chaffey
We need to talk about sales process.
Are you in the business of sales of consumer goods to major retailers, wholesalers, TV shopping, catalogues, online stores, etc? If you are not following a sales process, you probably won’t have gotten very far.
The days of SPIN, N.E.A.T and other snappy acronyms for outdated sales process are long gone and will rarely work in your favour when presenting consumer products to major retail buyers.
A well placed phone call or email CAN still bear fruit in the 21st century, you might catch the buyer on a good day or they might be nearing a buying review cycle, but getting what you want from a retail buyer in one shot is akin to buying a winning lottery ticket… It is incredibly rare.
As a matter of fact, retail buyers are so adept at keeping their doors closed that approaching them can be a very disheartening and exhaustive experience – you might feel like giving up, but don’t!
If you’re feeling like the chap above in your quest to have your products selected by retail buyers, let us help you by outlining a simple sales process… I mean, you could always pick up the phone to NCD and we’ll do it for you!
Step 1: Find the right people
admin@ sales@ hello@ service@… You may as well email firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s the old saying? People buy from people. Start by finding the buyers… They are people after all! This is not especially easy, but there are several list-brokering services which could provide you with a good starting point. Failing this… Try your luck with the retailer’s telephone switchboard if all else fails.
Step 2: Use a decent CRM System
What’s a CRM? No it’s not a Crystalised Red Mango. That is ridiculous.
A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system. In layman’s terms (you big layman, you.) it’s a database that keeps tabs on what was said to whom and when. Nothing is more embarrassing in sales than contacting a buyer – only to fluff your lines because you can’t remember what was said the last time you made contact – buyers will call you out on this!
It also means that if there are several people working on the same project, or indeed simply liaising with the same contacts, you can pick up where they left off and vice-versa. Simply put, it helps to eliminate the problem of ‘toe treading’.
A good CRM will take care of all that and more for you. Ours currently stands at some 25k+ contact records and is among our most valuable tools.
Step 3: Approach!
Now you have the buyer’s contact details and somewhere to keep track of the back-and-forth correspondence, it’s time to make your approaches.
We tend to start with an email – if you manage to speak to the buyer in the first instance and get them making the ‘right noises’ they will only ask you to send an email anyway…
Steer well clear of a generic pitch email, make it interesting (stay tuned for another blog entry on how to do just that) and be friendly – but make sure to let the buyer what you want. Use the buyer’s name and namedrop their company throughout.
Step 4: Follow Up.
Make use of the aforementioned CRM system – set yourself calendar reminders to pop up at opportune times to make a telephone follow up (top tip 9-10 am and 4-5 pm are the best times to place your follow-up calls – in our experience).
Of course, phone is not the only way to follow-up. If you can’t get hold of the buyer, make use of follow-up emails or take the initiative and send a letter with the offer to see some samples (unsolicited samples are often cast aside)…
Steps 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… See Step 4.
To get somewhere, it takes an average of 5 follow-up calls to a prospect AFTER a meeting – most salespeople give up after just one follow-up (The Marketing Donut) – in our experience, it can take as many follow-ups as this simply to get a meeting in the first place…
It’s a long old road, and at times frustrating… But so worth it when you FINALLY see your products on the shelves of big retailers!
Go forth and sell young Padawan. You are ready!