How to Sell to Stores

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You have a great product that you want to make available in stores. Where do you begin? This is a challenge even for seasoned businesses, but it can be done.

Pitching on Open Vendor Days

Make a list of the stores you think your product would fit in with.

Research if they hold open vendor days. Sometimes you can just do a search on the Internet for \"open vendor days,\" but you will often get too many that don't pertain or are outdated.

Make a calendar of those stores that your product will fit with and when their open days are. For example, if you sell sports clothing for consumers, you might select Sports Chalet, which has monthly open vendor days on the third Wednesday or Thursday of the month. But they only hear about certain products on certain days. If clothing is done on Thursdays, put that down on your calendar in the month you want to present your product.

Schedule your appointments according to their directions. Keeping with the Sports Chalet example, you have 20 minutes on a first-come, first-served basis. They do not take calls.

Read the vendor package thoroughly. Make sure that you qualify, have the required insurance and can supply the quantity needed. It is one thing to sell to individual stores, but if you plan on going to a national chain, like the Sports Chalet, then it means larger volume.

Plan your presentation. It is important that you have a sample, if possible. Stress the value of the product. What is it going to do for Sports Chalet that is not already being done?

Make your pitch. You have done everything to a T, so now it is game time. Sell your product to the person or committee that is listening.

Getting into Stores With Proposals

Go the Website of the Store(s) and look at the bottom for the \"About the Company\" button. Some make this tough to find, and supplier or vendor information is tough to find. I did that for Victoria Secret, and came up with nothing, so I did a Google search \" Victoria Secret Suppliers.\" It turns out that VS is owned by the Limited Brand.\nIt is easier to find if you are a minority or woman owned business. It is usually under diversity.\nAnother source might be a business magazine.

Register your company (if required): If it is a diversity supplier it is the norm. If they are interested they will call or write within a month to schedule an appointment or source event (Victoria Secret).

Prepare your presentation/presentation: Each company has a different procedure. Some will give you the contact number to the buyer and you can contact them about a presentation/proposal or appointment.

Make your pitch and then wait. The larger the chain the more they may make you wait or come in to sell to a committee. Then you will wait again.

Selling in Small Stores (local)

Research small stores that you think may be interested in your company. Basically walk through and see what they are selling now.

Call for an appointment

Prepare your plan and samples

Do your presentation

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are relying on open vendor days, then you should make multiple appointments, maybe a week apart, so you can tighten any loose ends.
  • With the proposal, you must know that company very well to tell them how they will benefit from your product.
  • You must have the latest computer, because large vendors will place their orders using software that must be on your computer.
  • Wal-Mart recommends you start at the local level first and requires major cash outflow if you want to go national.
  • National chains look for the financial stability of the company and the ability of the owner to deliver what they order.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket unless you are trying to do an exclusive deal.
  • It can take months to close a deal with large chains.

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