How to Sell Your Products to Retailers

How to sell products to retailers seems to be the biggest obstacles for new producers.  Actually, over the years, I have learned that there is a step by step process that is invaluable when you approach your first wholesale buyer.

  1. Know your productHow to Sell Products to Retailers
  2. Know your potential buyer

Okay, a bit simplistic, but the basis for most sales.

Know Your Product

Knowing your product should seem easy, but are you prepared for all the questions a buyer may ask such as:

  • What are your terms?
  • How quickly can you ship or deliver?
  • How well does your product sell in other stores?
  • What is your return policy or do you have one?
  • What demographics does this product appeal to most?

And then there are the questions that they may wonder about, but don’t ask, such as:

  • Are you dependable?
  • Will you answer my questions/concerns after I receive your products?
  • Will you follow up with me when necessary?
  • Will you or what will you do to help me sell your products?

Know your potential buyer and their store

I highly recommend conducting some extensive research on the store before you contact them.  Now, I have seen some coaches with a three page list of things to look for in a retail outlet — which are thorough — but personally, if I had spent that much time researching a store or buyer, I would not have time to actually sell products to retailers!

So, this is what I suggest you ask yourself when doing your research:

  • Does this store cater to your particular niche?  In other words, if they sell stationary supplies, they are likely to sell greeting cards.
  • Do they sell similar items to your own?  Maybe they are looking for a complimentary item or a similar item in a different price range.  Either way, this may be the beginning of a great fit.
  • Are they similar to other retail outlets you have successful sold to.  If you are a newbie, does the store attract your ideal customer?  If you have been selling online or at craft fairs, you should have a strong sense of who your ideal customer is.
  • Would you refer your retail customers to this store?  Maybe you never intent to make these kind of referral, but that does not matter — would you feel comfortable having your products there and referring people to this particular store?
  • Are the store personnel friendly towards their customers and you, as a supplier?  May not seem important, but the last thing you want to do is sell to a store that is rude to you (believe me, I have first hand experience with this and it is not fun!)

Once you have researched and have a good handle on the two main concerns, you are ready to pitch your products.

For more information about the next steps, check out the following articles to learn more about how to sell products to retailers:

Tips for Working with Wholesale Buyers

Selling Wholesale Basics

How to Get Your Products in Stores

The Sales Presentation, Part One

The Sales Presentation, Part Two

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Business Tips — Teach and Grow Your Business

A series of Business Tips from the book:Teach and Grow Your Business

Teach And Grow Your Business: How To Create Multiple Streams of Income, Get More Clients, Work Less and Live More

by Shanique Thompkins

When you match your skills and expertise with the vast needs of the marketplace you will discover a sea of opportunity.
— Shanique Thompkins

The subject of Shanique’s book, Teach and Grow Your Business, is very near and dear to my heart.

I was a traveling sales rep for many years until I developed health issues that made traveling very difficult for me.  Instead of just giving up, I moved my business online — and at the prompting of my husband, I started writing about what I did and learned as a sales rep.

I discovered my sea of opportunity during a time when I thought I had lost everything I had worked for.

Fast forward a few years, my health has improved and I have a nice consulting and writing business.  I matched my skills and expertise with the needs of the marketplace.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to grow your business through teaching…

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… two common pitfalls faced by many on their road to success. The first pitfall is lack of purpose. The second pitfall is unchecked limiting beliefs.
— Shanique Thompkins

Shanique makes a very good point:  You need to figure out your purpose before you move forward with your project.  Figuring out your purpose, helps you keep focused on your goal.

And, second pitfall:  Limiting yourself.  Your know the stuff you say in your mind when you make a big goal:  I can’t do this because I don’t have enough time, enough money, enough knowledge …. All limiting beliefs! (Lots more examples of limited thinking in the book.)

Like we have talked about previously, replace your limiting belief with a positive belief:  I CAN do this because I have lots of time, lots of money, and lots of knowledge.

I love Shanique’s advice:

It is best to identify these limiting belief systems and rewire our brain before embarking on the new income stream journey.

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People will consume the material you create by reading your books, watching your videos, listening to your live presentations, and participating in your coaching program.
— Shanique Thompkins

Shanique lists the most popular ways to distribute your material and appeal to all the learning styles:

  • Visual learners like to read books
  • Aural or auditory learners prefer listen to information
  • Kinesthetic learners respond well to coaching programs

Appealing to all three styles meets the needs of most learners and will help you on your way to helping most learn your unique skills.

The next step is beginning your game plan by coming up with one topic you are well versed in — create, promote and profit from that topic.

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… choose a topic that you are willing to spend the next five years perfecting.
— Shanique Thompkins

I hope you didn’t think that once you gained some expertise in a certain area that you would be done with learning about that topic!

Situations, circumstances and methods are constantly evolving and changing. Continually immersing yourself in your focus field is really the only way to stay ahead of your ‘students’ with fresh content.

And believe it or not, reading what your competitors are doing and teaching is a good way to learn as well.

Shanique suggest three action steps:

  1. Determine the topic you have always wanted to learn more about
  2. List the topic(s) you would love to help other people learn
  3. Figure out the topics you am passionate enough to learn about and teach

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Before your audience will receive your help, they will need to know what you have been through, what you have overcome, what you have learned along the way, and how you have succeeded.
— Shanique Thompkins

Stories are often one of the best ways to learn.  When we see a scenario similar to our own struggles in business, we instantly relate to the story and thus, also the shared solution.

Many of the tips I make, here and there in my eletters and articles, are based on personal experience I have dealt with or the experiences of the person I am quoting.  We don’t always have to ‘learn the hard way’ — we can gain knowledge from the experiences of other.

Shanique suggests a three-step action plan for successful sharing your experiences:

  • Write a story of struggle that will connect with your audience.
  • Write the main lessons you learned from the struggle.
  • What lessons can you teach other people based on your struggle and success?

What experiences can you share that will help your potential students and customers?

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Tips for Shipping Orders

The holiday season is coming up quickly. At the end of August, families are coming home from vacations, kids are getting ready to return to school, and we are starting to think about holiday products!

At this time of the year, we are gearing up our inventory, of course, but we are also looking at the best shipping methods and packaging for our customers.  On our Tastes of Idaho site, we ship loads of gifts and gift baskets to our customers, and shipping methods become very important for several reasons, including the following:Tips for Shipping Orders

  • Finding a process that is as easy and seamless as possible
  • Shipping orders with the lowest costs to the customer (and us) as possible!

I discovered an article that addresses these (and more) issues that most of us who ship face daily.

How do I keep my shipping costs low?

As a business owner, it’s important to trim your budget, especially when it comes to shipping. If you don’t research cost-cutting options, your fees can balloon out of control and either eat into your margins or be passed onto your customers.

  • Compare Prices Between Carriers: Every carrier has a unique set of services and prices, so it’s important to compare prices to make sure that you’re getting the best possible deal for your business….
  • Use Carrier-Provided Packaging If Possible: Many carriers offer packaging that is tailored to their specific requirements. If it’s possible for your products, using the packaging materials provided by your carrier can be an easy way to avoid unnecessary costs.
  • Invest in Flat Rate Shipping: Some major mail carriers provide envelopes and packaging for fixed-rate shipping based on the distance a package travels and its destination….

Personally, we found that shipping lighter-weight orders the US Postal Service gives us the best rates.  We have an online account where we order free shipping boxes of various sizes, develop our labels, and pay the shipping fees.  Just go to the USPS website, and open an account, if you don’t already have one.

With larger orders (heavier mostly) or ones being shipped several states away, we like to use FedEx.  We chose FedEx over UPS because we had too many problems with UPS, but either service would work for most companies.

How do I choose a shipping rate for my store?

Using regular mail services means that you handle the entire fulfillment process—including packaging, postage, and shipping labels—so you’ll need to manually set a rate that covers your costs without turning your customers away….

Since shipping costs are largely based on shipment weight and distance, one method for finding an appropriate shipping rate is to determine the average weight of your shipments (based on the weight of your products and which combination of products customers usually order).

Add together the individual weights of all of your products and divide them by the size of your catalogue. Take that average weight and multiply it by the average amount of items in an order.

Average Order Weight = (Catalogue Weight / # of Products) x Average Order Size

Once you’ve found your average order weight, contact your mail carrier to find out how much it would cost to ship a package of that weight. Be sure to check how much your carrier would charge for shipping to all of your shipping zones.

These are just a few of the shipping tips in the article from Shopify (and if you use Shopify, there are many more tips you want to check out!)

7 Quick Fixes for Your Biggest Shipping and Fulfillment Problems

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Business Tips — Spiritual Marketing

A series of Business Tips from the book:Spiritual Marketing

Spiritual Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Formula for Easily Creating Wealth from the Inside Out
by Joe Vitale

What you hold in your mind with energy and focus will tend to be created in your reality
— Joe Vitale

Joe is a well-known marketing specialist and author (who wrote “The AMA Complete Guide to Small Business Advertising”).  Before “Spiritual Marketing” was written, he already had published ten popular books on marketing.

According to the story, he originally wrote this book for his sister who was facing some difficult money issues.

During a marketing seminar with Bob Proctor his ideas, outlined in this book, were so well received that he decided to go ahead and publish it.

So what exactly is spiritual marketing?  His quote above sums it up nicely.

Stay tuned, over the next days,  for his five step process …

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Step One:  Know what you don’t want …. Step Two:  Select what you would like to have, do, or be.
— Joe Vitale

I am putting Step one and two together because I feel they are the flip side of the same coin.

Often, we can figure out what we DO want once we recognize what we DON’T want.  This process also helps us to weed out the negative — what we don’t want — and replace it with positive action:  What I do want!

Joe suggests making a list of what you don’t want and reword it into a list of what you do want:

For example:  “I don’t want these bills” becomes “I want more than enough money for everything I desire.”

The purpose, of course, behind this exercise to knowing that when refocusing on what you want will take you in the direction of what you want!

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Step Three:  Get Clear
— Joe Vitale

Each of us tends to have limiting beliefs about the world around us.  You know the beliefs:  we are not good enough, rich enough, talented enough …. and when we dwell on those things, that is exact what we see in our lives.

Most of us deal with these types of beliefs because we have heard and believed them since childhood!

On the other hand, if we focus and truly trust in ourselves, we are invincible.

Joe says we need to clear out the old beliefs and fill them with our new beliefs!  When we are clear, he says, “the energy moves in one direction”  — which, of course, is towards our goals.

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Step Four:  Feel how exciting it would be to have, do, or be what you want.
— Joe Vitale

Emotions have power!  If you don’t believe me (or Joe Vitale), just go to a pop concert or a sporting event and observe what happens there.

Marketing specialists have known for decades that people don’t always act for logical reasons, but do act for emotional ones.

Your emotions have the power to help you create what you want in life.

Joe suggests you “find within yourself what it will feel like to have, be, or do the thing you want and you will begin to manifest the thing you want.”  Because the energy you give the emotion works to pull you toward what you want while also pulling what you want towards you.

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Step Five:  Let Go
— Joe Vitale

Letting go is very similar to trusting that things will work out.

Now that does not mean you sit on your laurels and wait for your dreams to fall into place, but that you do what you can do and then let it go to come together on its own.

When I was a teenager, I had a boyfriend who, when he broke up with me, told me that having a good relationship should not be this hard.  Of course, I didn’t believe him at the time, but as I grew older, I not only learned to understand what he was saying, but I have fully embraced this attitude in my life and business.

Joe Vitale has brought his marketing expertise together with his understanding of how the universe works in this excellent book.  If you are interested in his five step program — finding examples of each of his steps — I highly recommend purchasing a copy of his easy-to-read book.

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Successful Techniques for Contacting Buyers

A gal, who is an active member of my Mastermind Group, recently asked for suggestions on techniques for contacting buyers.

Since I frequently receive similar questions on this subject, I decided to list the technique that I have used.Successful Techniques for Contacting Buyers

But first, I need to stress the first two important points to consider BEFORE contacting a buyer:

  1. Make sure you do your homework before contacting a retail outlet.  If you sell jewelry, don’t contact a baby clothing store (okay, that was probably a no-brainer, but you get the idea!)
  2. Face-to-face contact is always the best and most effective, when possible.  These suggestions are for stores that you are unable to physically visit!

My Technique for Contacting Buyers

When you find a store that looks like a good fit, call them to find out the name of the appropriate buyer.  If they are available, great!  Ask to talk to him/her.  If they are not available, you can always call back and ask for the buyer by name.

If you are a bit nervous and don’t know what to say to a potential buyer, try this introductory dialog:

“Hi my name is Sandy and I produce a line of XYZ that I would like to introduce  as a potential (gift, jewelry, clothing, souvenir … whatever it is that you produce) line for your store.” (Don’t tell them that it will be their next best selling item, because you don’t know that, and saying it does not impress buyers!)

Next, ASK them if you can email or mail them a line sheet and pictures of your products.  Once you find out their preference for mail or email, follow through with the email or mail as soon as you can (with 24-48 hours!).

After a few days to a week or so (if you mailed your info), call back again, remind the buyer who you are and reference the day you emailed or mailed them a packet of your information.  Ask them if they had a chance to look through your product information.

If they say no, ask when you should get back to them and set a reminder to follow up when they tell you to.

If they say yes, ask them if they had any questions or concerns.  Make sure to listen very carefully to what they say as it will give you insights to their level of interest, if they need more information or samples, or if they are just too busy to talk to you about it.  (NOTE:  Never send samples unless they ask or tell you to send them!)

Depending on their answer, suggest an opening order for their store or ask when you can get back to them (if they are too busy to talk to you at that time).

If you don’t receive an order, plan to call every 7-10 days until you get a firm yes or no. Often times if they tell you no, the timing is just off — maybe there is no open-to-buy at the moment.  At that point, ask if there is a better time to check in with them again and, of course, make a note of the time and date to follow up.

After the purchase is made and shipped, I would follow up again in a week or two to make sure they got the order, they understand the paperwork etc., and ask how their customers are liking the line. I would also ask when they would like you to follow up again (for re-order). If they don’t give you a time frame, I would call back in about 3 to 4 months to see if they need to reorder.

After using a system like this, contacting  buyers becomes easier and more effective.

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