Hello start-up businesses, navigating through the retail maze can be an extremely daunting task even for the most business-savvy individuals. This article is meant to provide some insights and guidance when your business is deciding to sell its products to retailers and distributors.
We will be discussing:
- Sifting through proposals from distributors
- Finding the right sales reps
- Contacting potential buyers correctly
An entire series of books could be written to help start-ups be successful with retail; however, we will try to some important points based on the topics listed above.
Sorting Through Distributors
If your business has received a lot of attention online through crowdfunding websites or traditionally through trade-shows, you`ve probably been bombarded with offers to distribute or resell your product to billions…no…trillions of people! Right?
But how do you know which distributor is the right choice for your product?
To have long-term success you should keep in mind the distributor`s ability to sell your product. Picking a distributor that is knowledgeable in your industry with knowledgeable, motivated sales reps is a must. Your overall objective is to get your products to as many end-users as possible (at the right price), and if your distributors cannot do that – then they are dead-weight on your business.
It doesn`t matter if a distributor buys your products if they can`t in-turn sell them to retailers or end-consumers. Of course price, logistic capabilities, and communication are also important and setting up some criteria would be a good idea.
Sales Reps: Independent or In-House?
Just how every business is unique, sales reps too vary in skill, price, performance, and industry knowledge. Finding the right sales rep can be tough especially if you`ve never hired one before, if you have little sales experience, or if you`ve had bad experiences with the ones you have hired (although in this case at least you`d know what doesn`t work).
A sales representative needs to be knowledgeable in your industry as well as with your product. Simply describing your product isn`t enough for your sales people to be successful. You should be providing in-depth sales tools such as pamphlets, samples, facts and figures, etc. Assume they know nothing at all about your product and give them everything they could ever need to understand and present the benefits of your product.
Let`s not forget though that you also play an active role in your sales success. Your sales reps might be doing a lot of the grunt work; however, you need to keep them motivated, manage them, keep their training up-to-date, etc. Often this can take up a lot of time, which is why we at Retailbound come in so handy. Finding an effective management team with the proper expertise can save you years of stress and time.
Contacting the buyers
When contacting retailers or distributors, if you don`t have all your facts, figures, and paperwork in a row…it can mean lost opportunity, lost money, lost time, and no way of recovering it.
Sometimes you can find people to contact businesses for you such as sales reps, but unless you have all your material in order it won`t mean a thing.
Contacting buyers is something that I talk about frequently with small businesses. You only get one chance to make an impression and a sale. Knowing your product inside and out is a necessity. Knowing your competition, minimum order quantity, order forms, processes, logistics, etc etc is all necessary to provide the buyer with enough information to possibly make a purchase.
No business is the same which is why I can`t be super specific here. But just understand that contacting buyers either face-to-face or cold calling can be very tricky, and sometimes it helps to seek some help before you throw away opportunities.
There will be more of these small business and start-up articles coming out soon because who needs this information more than new businesses. We at Retailbound seek to help any business succeed in the jungle that is retail.
If you`re stuck on certain aspects of your business: distribution, sales, marketing, etc .. comment below or connect with me and I`ll be happy to share some insights.