Here is the reality – most buyers you approach are going to say ‘no’. I talked with one buyer at a large grocery store. She said that she automatically says ‘no’ to everything that comes across her desk, no matter what it is. She uses this as a filter, because most people will just give up at the first ‘no’, and it will help her separate the people who really want to be in her store from those who don’t.
Crazy – but true.
So how do you get a buyer to say yes? I’ve asked a ton of buyers this question and here has been their feedback:
1) Be persistent. Buyers have told me that in certain seasons and at certain times they are looking for certain things. So, they may say no to the Clean Bottle, not because they don’t like the product, but because they aren’t looking for bottles at the moment.
So treat ‘no’ as a ‘not now’ and check in with them every 2 weeks. Shoot them an email to let them know about product developments, recent press, whatever. Find a way to be top of mind, so when they are actually looking for water bottles your name will be the first one that comes up.
If there is one universal truth it is this – people are LAZY. I am lazy, I’ll admit it. So make it EASY to do business with you. Update them frequently, make your emails easy to read (4 sentences max with short sentences). Don’t include PDF attachments in the emails or links – the buyers won’t click on them. Make them jpegs that you can just embed in the email so they see them right away.
2) Be visible. I think this is mostly the same as being persistant, but slightly different. You want the buyer to always be aware of your product. One way to do this is to email them. But what are the other ways?
How about getting your product to everyone in their company. I visited a buyer and brought a whole case of Clean Bottles – with their company’s logo on them. I handed them out to every employee I could find and to the lady at the front desk. So now – the buyer is going to see all of her colleagues using the Clean Bottle, so the product is top of mind. It seems less ‘foreign’ to her because everyone is using it.
3) Show them traction. In addition to keeping a buyer updated on product development / PR let them know how your product is selling. They like to see sales data because it helps mitigate risk on their end.
4) Be consistent. This whole process is about consistency. If you were training for a marathon you’d have a much better chance at success if you ran for 4 hours a week for 5 months, than tried to run 15 hours a week for 3 weeks. It is the same thing as pitching to a sales person. You have to consistently keep them updated and be top of mind for them. You never know when they will need a product in your category, so you need to consistently reach out to them.
At Clean Bottle our goal is to contact the buyers at our key accounts / prospects every two weeks. So every two weeks we are emailing them or sending them something. Every Friday we send out a summary to each other of our weekly activities and every employee has to list their top accounts and the date they were last contacted. It is a great forcing function for us to make sure we are being consistent.
Thats it for me – good luck!