Prospecting for wholesale accounts is a methodological process that can be learned. As a semi-retired sales rep, I can share some of the wholesale prospecting tips I have learned over the years.
First, the best way to prospect accounts is to visit the town or area where you want to open an account and visit stores in the area that sell similar products. Often, if you find a small store or an independent retailer, you can talk to them about your product line on the spot.
Of course, unless you do a lot of traveling, this method is not a good long-term strategy! Most vendors use phone and email to contact buyers to present their products. It is quick, easy and cost effect.
The Arts Business Institute posted an article last month that outlined some good tips for email prospecting that are excellent.
A quick summary of tips that can work for you:
- Verify that a particular store is good fit for your products. It only wastes their time and yours to pitch your line to a store that does not carry anything similar to what you make!
- Always use the buyers name in your correspondence. Nothing screams inexperience or thoughtless emails than addressing to Dear Sir/Madame or Dear Buyer. Or worse yet, sending out a form letter to a group of retail stores or buyers!!
- Customize your emails as much as possible. If you cannot physically visit the retailer, at lease check out their website, the products the already stock and get a feel for what this store offers their customers. When you have this information in hand, you can correspond more intelligently with their buyers.
- Stay in touch with your emailed buyers. It often takes several contacts before a buyer will actually place an order, so follow-up is critical. If you want orders, keep following up until you get a firm commitment from the buyers.
- And when you finally land the order, make sure to follow through on all the promises and agreements you made. If you promised a certain ship date, make sure you ship in plenty of time for the buyer to receive the product BEFORE that time.
For more information, check out the complete article from the Arts Business Institute: