Our Selling to Retailer’s Mastermind group generates a lot of discussion around issues that producers deal with daily. I would like to share one of our Sample Policy Mastermind Group Discussions that took place recently.
QUESTION: The one wholesale account I inherited when I bought this business is asking for a free sample of a new product I approached them with. I sent samples of another line last year and never got feedback or so much as a thank you. Should I just stick to my policy – they pay wholesale and shipping – and not mention last year?
MALCOLM: Good question, and one we all run into periodically. For a valuable customer, I send. For someone who is marginal, I ask for shipping up front, and don’t charge for the sample. Or better yet, charge the wholesale price and shipping, but offer it with a coupon for the full amount of what I charge for the sample, on an order of $xxx or more for that product.
JANET: I told him our policy was to let retailers buy one of each item at wholesale (skip the $100 minimum) and we give a credit when they order (in this case $11) and he said “Sorry, we don’t pay for samples.” I don’t offer sample sizes…they are full size product. I am glad I stood my ground.
MARTIN: One thing I like to subtly sneak into my conversation is a suggestion that we consider companies that want free samples as somehow less professional and more desperate than clients we choose to work with..
Another business I operate, we sell quite expensive electrical products and naturally we get our share of “potential distributors” trying to get free samples out of us.
I enjoy responding to resellers before they place their first order with a message such as “I’m sincerely looking forward to developing a profitable relationship with you. From your website I can see you are a large, professional organization with much potential to expand. Although we have a lot of registered resellers I dedicate nearly all of my time and attention on the rare few who have the resources to grow and to invest wisely in getting started”.
I like to think that this type of introduction weeds out the time-wasters early on. After a month of inactivity I disable their reseller account and retain only the members who are going to make me money.
SANDY: Good idea to monitor your FREE samples! I had one store in a remote town that contacted one of my vendors asking for a large amount of sample. They wanted soap samples, so the producer sent them and gave me the contact info to follow up with them. When I visited with them (a month or so later), they asked for more samples — but no order. A few months later, they contacted the producer AGAIN for more samples!! I told the producer he/we were being scammed!! This ‘customer’ never bought and we never heard from them again. I guess they had enough sample to last awhile!!
JANET: Martin, you are my new best friend! Thank you so much. I LOVE your approach and will follow it. Sandy, I am guessing they were selling the samples…
SANDY: No, actually, the samples were mostly small sample sized, so they were using them for personal use! As it turned out, she was meeting me at the convenience store that her daughter ran, and giving me a basket company name!
Some great tips and feedback from Mastermind members!
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