Best time to approach buyers is when they are ready to buy!
I get asked this often, and they are numerous different answers to that question.
First let me list the time when you should NOT approach buyers:
- Friday at 4:00 pm
- After 6 other people have given their sales presentation before you
- On a weekend
- Before you have your sales material or full samples ready
But seriously, each store and each different area of the country can have a different time frame in which they buy products.
My Idaho Schedule
In Idaho, which is a very touristy state, I typically starting my sales routes in March, as soon as the roads were safe (and free from snow and ice) to travel on. Typically, my buyers were not really in the mood to buy until it looked like winter was over.
On the other hand, in the Boise area, which is the largest population center in the state, I either visited or called customers in January/February as I knew their inventory would be low after the holiday season.
The Spring buying season lasted until around mid-May, so I made sure to contact every store before that date, knowing they needed to have product in their stores by the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May.
I continued to contact the high population and high tourist shops, checking inventory to make sure they did not sell out before the big 4th of July weekend.
After the 4th of July, sales, for me, slowed down some, while I retooled for holiday selling. Then in late August, I was back on the road (or phone) presenting new holiday products and taking re-orders for gift boxes and other gift items. The holiday buying season typically ended in early November after buyers had filled their open-to-buy for the after Thanksgiving holiday season.
I never visited buyers after Thanksgiving as most of them were way too busy with customers to talk to a sales rep. Although, I did phone high-traffic stores to make sure they were not running out of inventory too early in the season.
Now, back to the question: When is the Best Time to Approach Buyers?
Here are some suggestions from other experts:
- Pitch buyers a 9-12 months ahead of the season (especially if they are a larger retailer)
- Pitch your products during the time that the trade shows are promoting products
- Ask your buyers when they will be open-to-buy and contact them early when they are ready to buy
- Keep track of your buyer’s buying trends and pitch them during that time frame.