Selling and Marketing to Your Exact Customers

When you develop a product or product line, keep in mind your exact customers that will buy your items.

One lesson I learned early on as a new sales rep was that I could not sell a product to a store that was not my exact customer.  In other words, my Lewis & Clark candy bars (my first wholesale line), sold wonderfully to the stores along the Lewis & Clark trail.  But the stores that were further away from the trail were not good customers for these candy bars.  Likewise, my Idaho based products sell well to nearly any gift store in the state of Idaho, but don’t do so well for folks in the southern or eastern part of the country.

When selling and marketing your products, remember first who your exactSelling and Marketing to Your Exact Customerscustomers are and gear your sales materials to those customers and market.

Example of Targeting Your Exact Customers

One of my coaching clients produces and sells a beautiful high-end line of personal care products.  One of her biggest markets is salons and spas.  But she also wants to market to swimsuit shops.

I was a bit baffled by this until she explained that a few of her products contain special ingredients geared towards sunbathers.  Now it made sense to target swimsuit shops.

But, in order to attract those buyers, she will need to re-work her sales sheets to cater to those buyers and their end consumers.

Whereas her standard sales sheets work well for her salon and spa customers (and similar type stores), swimsuit stores would be confused by the standard sales sheets.

I suggested she work up a special sales sheets explaining why these customers would buy her products from their store.  In her sales sheets, she included:

  • Color photos of the particular products geared toward this specialty market
  • Item pricing and case pricing
  • Short list of ingredients, focusing on the ingredients that would attract this market and why
  • Listing of order and payment terms
  • Complete contact information

In addition, I suggested she also include a complete line sheet of all her personal care products when approaching these specialty shops.  You just never know when a buyer is so impressed by the specialty products that she/he will want to buy the complete line!

 

If you are stuck in your business or just looking for some extra help, I am available for 1-on-1 Coaching.  Check out the details:  1-on-1 Wholesale Business Consulting and Coaching

 

 

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Creating Effective Line Sheets

As a former road rep, I sold nearly exclusively from sales flyers.  My flyers typically showcased the products, pictures, pricing, and terms.  In most cases, I kept samples in my car, but seldom needed to show them to the buyers.

Now, I find that expanded line sheets work well for selling.  When I say Creating Effective Line Sheetsexpanded, I am referring to line sheets that also include some pictures along with ordering information and form right on the line sheet.

I really like the way that Boaz David from the Human B describes this special line sheet:

How to Create A Line sheet That Sells

What makes a good line sheet?

A good line sheet should answer all the questions that a buyer might have. Making it as easy as possible for them to write an order with no room to think twice or to hesitate.

Just like you want to covert your website visitors into sales, when a buyer shows interest in your line/product, your goal is to convert that into an actual order!

Therefore anytime a buyer has to stop and ask a question (re: what is the delivery date, what sizes do you offer etc.), or wonder about a look, color, fit etc. it will steer them away from the main goal which is writing the order….

How is a line sheet being used?

  • Anytime you present your line to a buyer in person you must have the line sheet with you and hand a copy to the buyer…
  • For out of town buyers you can always email the line sheet…

Line sheets should always contain important information about your company, such as contact info, email and website info.

Other important information to include:

  • Terms you are willing to accept for orders:  Credit card, Net 30 etc.
  • Minimum order amounts whether they are per unit or a dollar amount.
  • Complete product information such as pricing per unit, case pricing, item number, short description (where necessary), available options (colors, styles, sizes etc.) and photos where possible.
  • And, of course, wholesale price and suggested retail price.

Personally, I loved it when my vendors supplied me with line sheets that were COMPLETE!

Typically, most of the info I received, was formatted for consumers in the form of catalogs with lots of flowery verbiage that was not helpful for most wholesale buyers.

Simple sheets with pictures, ordering information and an added form for ordering worked great for my store buyer customers.

For more information on Line Sheets and Sales Flyers, check out the following extensive resources and links here:

You can also purchase examples of Sales Flyers and Line Sheets in the following resources:

 

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All About Line Sheets

Every product based business needs a Line Sheets, Catalogs and/or Sales Flyers for their business.

So, first,  what is the difference between them?

  • Catalogs are usually color brochures in a catalog format of all your All About Line Sheetsproducts and options.  Catalogs are common in the retail arena, but are sometimes too much overkill for store buyers.
  • Line sheets are a listing of your products, available favors, colors, scents or designs, pricing per piece and pricing per case lot.  Most lines sheets also list terms and can be used as an order form in some cases.
  • Sales flyers are my favorite mode of sales materials for store buyers because they often include pictures with the information on each item in your line.  Depending on the size of your line of products, line sheets and sales flyers can be the same!

Depending on the purpose of your materials and if you are selling to consumers or retail buyers, one or more of these options may apply to your business.

As a sales rep selling to retail buyers, I used a version of sales flyers.  I found them to be the best option for me as they had both a listing of products as well as pictures.

When I had a company with a large line of products, I often used a hybrid between a line sheet and a sales flyer.  (After all, who wants to look at 25 nearly identical pictures of a package mix when just a few pictures and a listing of all types and flavors is necessary).

Andreea Ayers recently published an article on line sheets.  Here is what she suggests as important components to include on a line sheet.  (Of course, this is probably just a sematical difference, but I would call her example a ‘sales flyer’ rather than a line sheet as it contains lots of pictures!)

7 Essential Elements of a Line Sheet that Stands Out

1. Your Logo

First and foremost, your logo needs to be clearly placed at the top of the line sheet for easy brand recognition….

2. Your Contact Details

Either next to the logo or below it, include your contact details. This would be name of the contact person, phone number, street address, email address and of course, website address….

3. Color Photos

Then, come the photos. Ensure that all photos are colored, showcase your product in the best possible way and are the same size for uniformity.

Photos should have a neutral or white background, be professionally edited and most importantly, clear….

4. Product Details

… all your product details, neatly and again, accurately laid out.

In other words, include the following:

  • Name of product
  • SKU or Item #
  • Wholesale Price
  • Recommended Retail Price
  • Order Minimums
  • Variants – Sizes, Colors, Etc.

5. Payment Terms and Refund Policies

The next important section for your line sheet will be including what are your payment terms and refund policies.

Do you have a 30-day payment window, Net 60 or do they need to pay upfront? …

6. Shipping Details

The next item on your line sheet should be the shipping details. Include information on who is your preferred shipping partner as well as any expected timelines. Also include information on when an order will qualify for carriage-paid shipping, which is when you cover the shipping costs if an order is of a certain dollar value or quantity.

7. Special Terms and Offers

Finally and most importantly, are there any special offers or terms that you give retailers. For instance, you can have a non-compete for their area. Terms, like these, besides the regular bundled offers or BOGO offers will help you stand out in a crowded retail space….

For more information about Line Sheets and Sales Flyers, check out the following article:

You can also purchase examples of Sales Flyers and Line Sheets in the following resources:

 

Taking Good Quality Photos

Along with our week’s post on photos, I would like to post an original article written by my husband, Malcolm, and added to pages 32-33 of our Complete Guide for Selling to Gift Shops ….

QUALITY PHOTOS of your products ARE ESSENTIAL to your sales efforts (especially for sales flyers and web sites).

A good digital camera with a zoom lens, and a “macro” feature – which allows for close-up shooting – is something to put on your Christmas list.

A low f-stop (able to take good photos in low light) is also a helpful feature. Flash makes lousy photos, Taking Good Quality Photosas does direct sunlight … too much shadow. I find it best to shoot my products outside on a CLOUDY day (no precipitation, of course), or inside during mid-day, with the shades open, and many sources of light coming from different directions. Turn the flash off, and rely on the camera light meter to do the work.

Use a soft-white cloth background, and make sure the material adequately covers all the camera angles. Avoid adding any “foofy” pine branches, decorations, or other extraneous items to accent the picture. Those add-ins are good for consumer brochures, but a retailer just wants to know what the product looks like… anything else is a distraction. Make sure to focus the lens (and get your light reading) ON the product… otherwise the white background will reduce the camera aperture, and wash out the products you are trying to target in the photo.

Try shots from different angles and heights. For example shoot straight down while standing on a chair, with products laying flat on the surface. Or shoot with products standing up (and you shooting from a side or angle). Take individual product shots, and also group shots of related products, and even the entire line.

Use digital photos in high resolution for your printed sales materials, and lower resolution (72 dpi) for web. Some kind of photo editing software, or a high-end graphics program, (or a trained and talented daughter in my case) will allow you to get the resolution you want, and even make color and shading corrections, to a point.

Good Photos for Your Products

During my years as a sales rep, traveling all over Idaho, into Montana and Oregon, I did most of my selling out of a ‘pitch book’.  If you are not familiar with a ‘pitch book’ is contains pictures, sales flyers and information I needed to sell products to store buyers.

In my car was hundreds of product samples:  the newest jams, mixes, jewelry pieces, souvenirs, t-shirts, cards, chocolate bars ……I had them all packed nicely in plastic boxes.  And yes, I brought them in … occasionally.  But normally, after the first showing to my customer base, the products never left my car again.

I did most all of my selling out of my pitch book when I had good photos and Good Photos for Your Productsspecially formatted flyers.  Pictures were and still are the backbone of my business.

Of course, those pictures also needed to translate to my website(s) as well, so having excellent photos is a must in this business!

I don’t use any fancy software to take or format my pictures.  Our camera is a digital Kodak.  I touch up and format my pictures in a older version of Corel Photo Paint that my digital artist step daughter gave me and taught me how to use.  Nothing fancy, right?

Actually, the only problem I had was removing the discolored or uneven background in my pictures.  I used an old sheet as a backdrop, but it was not quite as nice as I would like.  Then, I recently ran across a new online software tool called Background Burner.

This cool website will let up upload a pictures where it will take out the background and let you touch it up before saving it.

And the best thing about Background Burner is that it is FREE!

According to the website, this is how it works …

How does the Background Burner automatically remove image backgrounds?

  • Easy: It’s magic! Well… it’s computer magic. It uses a large number of high-tech software algorithms to analyze your image and detect line, color and focus, to separate objects in the foreground from objects in the background.

Can I clean up my image background after it’s been removed?

  • Yes. Every once in a while, the Burned version may not have a perfect background removal. If that happens, just find the thumbnail that looks the best and click “Touch up.” Then use the interactive touch-up tools to perfect your background outline.

Can it remove white backgrounds from images?

  • Yes, it can. If you have an image with a white background, you can run it through the Burner and save it as a PNG. This will convert the white background into an alpha layer, making the background transparent.

Make sure to check out this handy little tool:

http://www.bonanza.com/background_burner