Making Appointments vs. Cold Calling

Cold calling a store is only one of the two different approaches in making a presentation to a buyer.  You enter a store and ask to talk to the buyer without any pre-arranged appointment or notice.  The other method is making an appointment ahead of time with the buyer.  There are many advantages and disadvantages to using either method.

When cold-calling, you have the convenience of visiting a store when you arrive in town.  You have the added benefit of talking face to face with a potential buyer where it is harder for them to tell you they are not interested.  Lots of buyers also double as store clerks where their main priority is working with customers.  Cold calling can still be effective if you have patience and don’t take offense as they interrupt you to help their customers.  On the other hand, making appointments ahead of time will often mean you have your buyer’s full attention without disruptions during your presentation.

The down side of cold-calling is when you arrive the buyer may not be in the store, may not have the time to talk with you, or will not talk to you without an appointment.  But, if you call buyers ahead of time, they often may not make an appointment with you if they don’t know you!  And sometimes, even if they do know you, they will not make an appointment!  It can be a vicious cycle with no easy solution!  I have found that it is harder for a buyer to say no to you when you are face to face with them in their store.

Cold-calling the first time you visit a store to introduce yourself to the buyer, even if they don’t have time to talk to you at that time, is a very effective approach that worked well for me.  This sales technique gives you time to find out that the buyer is, what their store is like and how you can best work with them in the future.  Next time you plan a sales trip to their store and area, you will know that you need to make an appointment or follow whatever instructions you will given during you initial cold call with this store.

The main point is to use with the method that works best for your potential buyers.  Some buyers will, under no circumstances, meet with you unless you call ahead for an appointment.  Others are perfectly content to see you when you come in – assuming they are not overly busy at the time.  Then there is a third group that will meet with you if you call ahead a leave a message as to the time or day you expect to be in their store.  I have developed a good working relationship with several buyers who previously required an appointment by just using the ‘call ahead’ method.  The requirement for an appointment is often a screening device or a pre-planning tactic, in these cases.  Once you get to know your buyers, they will be more open to working with you.  Just be considerate of their preferences, whichever method they prefer you to use when servicing their account.

4 comments for “Making Appointments vs. Cold Calling

  1. June 23, 2012 at 1:08 am

    thanks so much for verifying what I have found to be true for my own wholesale business. Sometimes I would go to stores for “research” to see which stores in a particular area will be a good match for my jewelry and/or cards. While there, sometimes a clerk or the owner will comment on the pendant I’m wearing and I find that to be a perfect opener for asking them if they’d like to see more. So far I get more yes answers with this approach than calling for an appt. That said, often it’s the clerk who gives me the thumbs up, who gives me the email address for the owner or buyer (or even the owner herself will ask me to email them… and then.. no reply, even after a few tries. I sometimes wonder why it is SO difficult to get an email response (or call back). For certain, some owners/buyers DON’T want to look at your products without an appt, but those same people are often impossible to get an audience with.

  2. June 23, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Robin,

    Yes! I have found the same thing to be true! Often buyers (or clerks) seem really interested in a product, but then don’t get back to me. I continue to contact them until I get a firm no. Sometimes, it is better to call if email does not work. Have you tried emailing info, sales flyers and/or price sheets? Buyers are, sometimes, bombarded with sales people and it is often the persistent ones who get the sales!!

    Good luck to you, Robin,
    Sandy

  3. June 23, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for that advice, Sandy. I guess I feel more comfortable with email than calling on the phone since I feel that it is less of a bombardment in case they are busy. But if they have told me to contact them via email and they don’t reply, it would be appropriate. The thing I don’t understand is that even then they often say they will call me back, but don’t. Definitely the next line of action is sending them sales sheets in the mail. I guess I just don’t want to waste the printing and postage on persons who are unresponsive, and it makes me wonder if I’d want to do business with them. That said, I recently got a really great sale from a store that ignored emails, but when I made a special trip to this (out of town) store and called ahead to make sure the owner would at least be there.. she was wowed by my products, was very friendly and made my highest purchase to date. I guess it really pays to be persistent. You just have to wonder sometimes at what point you are wasting your time.
    Robin Urton´s last blog post ..Seedling

  4. June 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Robin,

    It is easy to ignore emails, say no over the phone, put mail in a to-do pile that never gets done …. personal presentations are ALWAYS best when possible.

    What you are experiencing is NOT uncommon! But I would suggest calling to tell them you are EMAILING sales sheets. Then call a few days after you email the material. Sending in the mail, unless they ask, is the last choice, in my opinion!

    If you are interested in pursuing this topic with a group of producers, I suggest you join our Selling to Retailers Mastermind Group. Check it out here: http://nicheinnovation.com/mastermind.html. NOTE: Even though the sales page says it is $7/month, we have opened the mastermind group up to a one-time $7 for Lifetime Membership.

    Sandy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.