Trade Show Follow-Up

Trade Shows are fun, but they are also a lot of work!  But, believe it or not, the real work starts after the show is over and you are back in your office. And this is the place most exhibitors fall down!

The first order of business, once the show is over and you are back home, is to go through all the leads and orders you got at the show. Orders and requests for information should go out ASAP!  Don’t sleep until these are done. You are on trial to see how you operate your business… make an impression!

Of course, some buyers will ask for delayed shipping, by or after a certain date, to coincide with their next busy season. Make sure you develop a “tickler” system for sending out scheduled orders. Nothing hurts your credibility more than FORGETTING to send out an order, in the exact time frame when your customer wanted it.

Here is a suggested post-show follow-up sequence.

  • The ORDERS tagged for immediate delivery should go out first.
  • Download and post all the photos of customers and contacts you took at the show, to various social media and blogs. As you roll out the follow-up sequences below, be sure to include links to your show photos, and invite people to look them over.
  • Requests for specific information get mailed next, with a thank you.  On the outside of the mailer, it’s a VERY good idea to include something like: “The Information You Requested is Just Inside! Open NOW for Our Time Limited Offer!” Of course, you do need to have an offer in this case…
  • A thank you and reminder mailer, with sales materials, should go out to everyone whose information you were able to obtain. Much of the materials picked up are already in the round file… or part of a disorganized stack or mess the buyer may never get back to.
  • For customers, the note should be customized to thank them for any orders, or offer to extend the show special, and solicit feedback for getting testimonials about your service and/or products.
  • For prospects, you might try a “thanks for coming by” offer, with either a scaled-down version of the show offer or a different offer entirely.
  • Give EVERYONE a week or (at most) two weeks after the initial mailing or order shipment, and dial them up with a “courtesy call”, to make sure they got their order, or their information, or the follow-up materials and offer. Ask if there is anything else you could send them or questions you can answer. If they did not order at the show, ask them if they would like to place an order now, and take advantage of the post-show offer.
  • Check back again every 30 to 60 days with a “courtesy call”, until you get them as a customer, or you are convinced they will never be a customer.

Note that the great majority of exhibitors NEVER FOLLOW UP – instead, waiting for the prospects who came by the booth, to do all the work.

I understand that it’s easy to go back into your regular routine and leave the pressure of the show behind. THIS IS A MISTAKE! Do your follow-ups and thank yous, and set yourself ABOVE THE CROWD! You have a HUGE invesTrade Show Exhibiting Secretstment in the show, and with very little effort (relatively speaking) you can multiply your financial results!

Special Note:  The article above is an excerpt from my e-guide:  Trade Show Exhibiting Secrets!






Do You Charge Enough for Your Products?

New wholesalers don’t seem to charge enough for their products!  Of course, this is not true for everyone, but I see it too often (and can tell you some horror stories of dealing with producers who low-balled their product, then complained because no sales rep would take them on!)

Pricing does not need to be difficult.  If you are new to retailing or wholesaling, I suggest you check out my free e-course on the subject.  Sign up here:  “HOW TO PRICE YOUR PRODUCTS” 9-Lesson E-Course!

If you’ve wholesaled for awhile and are wondering if you need to increase your pricing, here are a few guidelines from Claire with Indie Retail to help you determine if you are underselling your products:

Charging what you’re worth

You’re hardly making a profit when you sell wholesale.

Your wholesale price is the smallest amount of money you’ll ever accept for your lovely thing.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a rock-bottom, bargain-basement, welcome-to-debtors-prison kind of price. It shouldn’t weigh your business down.

A healthy wholesale price is like a helium-filled balloon – it covers your direct costs, your overheads and your time and labour, but it also contains a significant shot of profit. That extra element is what gives your business lift….

You’re hardly making a profit when you sell retail.

Your retail price is tied to your wholesale price, so if the former’s out of whack there’s a good chance the latter is too….

You’re putting something wonderful out into the world and getting very little back. That’s not a business; it’s an expensive hobby….

You’re working all the time and still aren’t making much money.

…If you’re constantly working at maximum capacity – but still don’t have much to show for it – something has to change. The most valuable asset in your business is you. To function at your best you need rest, comfort and time to think…

Your prices are low compared to your competitors.

Closely pegging your prices to your competitors’ isn’t a great plan, but there should be some correlation….

In comparison to mass-market companies, your stuff will always look expensive – they can produce goods for much less than you ever could. But when you look at other designers, craftspeople or makers in your field, people at a comparable level who make and sell something similar, and discover they’re charging significantly more, well, maybe it’s time for you to catch up.

You’re pricing according to costs, not value.

At the end of a long day of making, when you turn to look at your work and feel a surge of pleasure and satisfaction, what’s the source of that feeling for you? Is it:

a) The deep joy of channeling your imagination, skill and experience into a unique object which shines with quality, personality and presence.

b) You saved your customer the trouble of putting it together themselves.

It’s the first one, right?

This is why your prices must reflect the value you create for your customers. You’re not simply assembling raw materials like a robot in a factory. In your hands, those materials become much more than the sum of their parts….

If your current prices are based simply on what it costs you to make your product, you’re not taking that extra value into account.

Now, before the big holiday buying push, is a good time to make sure your pricing is appropriate and you charge enough for your products!







Are You Just Starting Out Wholesaling to Retailers?

Working in the business of wholesaling to retailers for over 15 years, I think I heard the following question more frequently than I remember:

“I am just starting out wholesaling to retailers.  What do I do?” (or something along that line.)

The question is way too general for me to give any kind of effective answer.  I don’t know what their product line is, what you have done already or what your plans are for your business.

In order to give a respectable answer, I wrote this article on starting out wholesaling.

  1. First, I suggest you look at what products to plan to offer a store buyer.  If you have a line of one product, you are wasting time selling wholesale.  Buyers are looking for a line of products — at least three items that compliment each other, are different colors, flavors or scents of your original product.
  2. Sign up for my email list and receive a free copy of my reports which will help you understand the wholesale/retail terminology and help you get the appropriate systems in place to wholesale.  (If you are already on my email list and do not have a copy of these reports, reply to this email and I will get them to you):
    • Quick Start Guide for Setting Up Your Wholesale Systems
    • Glossary of Industry Terms:  Wholesale/Retail Industry
  3. Once all your systems are in place (listed in the Quick Start Guide), you are ready to focus on your first wholesale account.  Start with a local retailer where you can check out the store, meet the buyer/owner, and begin the process.  Don’t try to be everything to everybody because you are not!  Focus on accounts that sell similar products to your own.
  4. Listen to what the buyer is telling you.  The information you can glean from your first buyers can be very helpful in feedback on your product line, your sales materials and your presentation.Are You Just Starting Out Wholesaling to Retailers? Wholesale Business Consulting and Coaching

If you need further help, please check out my 1-on-1 Wholesale Coaching and Consulting Program where we explore your personal situation in more detail and work out a strategy that works best for you and your line of products!







Three Reasons Why Buyers Don’t Buy

Buyers have many reasons why they don’t buy your products.  Sometimes, you just contacted them on a bad day or a bad moment in that day.

According to professional salespeople, three main mistakes can be easily avoided when dealing with buyers.  Andy Preston, a writer for the Sales Gravy website, lists the following avoidable mistakes in his article:

  • Sales Mistake Number 1 – Poor First Impression
  • Sales Mistake Number 2 – Not Taking A Genuine Interest
  • Sales Mistake Number 3 – Poor Last Impression

Sounds pretty simple, yet how can you avoid these mistakes.

Avoiding Mistake #1:  Take an interest in the store when you visit them.  Ask them about their store, about their customers, or about items they may be looking for.

If you are talking on the phone or sending an email,  let them know that you did your homework before the contact by commenting on why you decided to call them.  One way to do open your sales conversation is by saying:  “I was looking at your website and I see you carry ABC Company’s product.  That is a wonderful line.  You know, in most stores that sell this line also sell my XYZ products successfully.”

Avoiding Mistake #2:  Direct your concerns for the buyer by making sure you chose a good time to visit or call them.  Respect their busy schedule and remember that their customers are more important than you!

It was not uncommon, while I was road repping, that I would make an appointment only to find that the buyer’s time was limited because of some last minute changes in schedule etc.

One time in particular, I was visiting a candy shop when her ice cream supplier showed up, unexpectedly, with several gallons of ice cream that needed to be put away immediately.  When I saw the dilemma, I immediately offered to help her put the ice cream in the freezer.  Fifteen minutes later, she was rested, relieved and willing to buy from me.

Avoid Mistake #3:  Making a good last impression is just as important as making a good first impression.  What you do after you take the order is critical in obtaining re-orders.

Checking in with the buyer a week or so after you ship their order to check to make sure the order happily arrived in good condition.  And, believe it or not, it often prompts the buyer to get the products on the shelf quicker!  But mostly, it shows that you care about your buyer and their store!

A little common courtesy can go a long way in dealing with buyers before and after they purchase your products!




The Value of Your Wholesale Accounts

As a wholesaler who sells to retailers, finding new stores is always a task to implement on a regular basis.  But what about the wholesale accounts you already have?

The value of a repeat customer — especially a wholesale customer — cannot be overlooked:

For example, Wholesale-in-a-Box shared the following example:

If a store orders once from you, that order might bring in $150, just as an example…. That same account, if they are really selling the product, could place an order with you every 3-4 months, over the span of the next several years years. $150 x 4 orders-per-year x 5 years = $3,000. That’s called the “lifetime value” of that account. Your first order with them might only be worth $150, but the potential lifetime value of that store can be many multiples of that. This doesn’t even account for the ‘follow-on’ effects of being in a store that is a good fit for your brand, such as new stockists that come from the exposure of having that account, traffic, and direct sales through your website.The Value of Your Wholesale Accounts

To maintain a good relationship with your current wholesale customers, Wholesale-in-a-Box suggests the following excellent tips:

How to Cultivate Your Current Accounts

One way to think about it is to treat every wholesale account like they are your first and that they live right down the road from you. Because 90% of the things you would do in that situation ARE things that you can do for every single store account that you have. Some things you might do if they were your first account and down the road:

  • Set a reminder after you send your order to reach out and make sure everything looks ok and see how things how things are selling.  Ask them what you can do better to help them with the display, how can you make it easier for them. Ask how you could have made the ordering process easier.
  • Bring them a little gift or treat with their order.
  • If there are certain things that are selling and others that aren’t, perhaps offer to replace the things that aren’t for free.
  • Put them on a separate email list for when you announce a new product. They are your people: tell them first.
  • Reach out at appropriate intervals (we recommend every 2-4 months) to see if they would like to reorder, just pinging them to check in.
  • If they say no, that’s OK, move your energy to other accounts.

Not every order will turn into a 5 or 10 year relationship, but the best way to find out if they will, is by creating a system to cultivate those accounts instead of letting them fall off.

More article on the subject:

Money is in the Re-Orders

Customer Service — Silence is Not Golden

Am I Contacting Buyers Often Enough?

Am I Being Too Pushy?