How to Get Enough Customers to be Carried in Stores
Looking to ramp up distribution of your product? When looking to work with larger retailers, wholesalers, distributors or even importers, a proven track record is key. Big retailers want to see a history of success in smaller stores before they’re willing to offer up valuable shelf space.
Demonstrating a successful sales record and a loyal customer base are some of the best ways to convince a potential partner that your product needs to be in their store, too. Here’s how to do it.
Acquiring regional customers
To build a local following, you first need to get your product in front of consumers. You already know what’s missing from the shelves in your neighbourhood stores. Offer samples in those stores where you know your product will fill a niche.
Use word of mouth
One large retailer may want to want to carry your product if customers are asking for it, and other retailers will want to carry your product if they see it stocked on the first retailer’s shelves. Validation and demand from your customers are your biggest assets, but so are the testimonials from other buyers.
Get used to hearing ‘No’, and thrive on it
Never underestimate the power of perseverance. While rejection is disappointing, it is important to remember that those ‘no’s’ can be valuable feedback for your business. Take advantage of the rejections and the face-time with buyers. Ask directly for feedback. You might learn some critical information about the product, your presentation, your pitch or another aspect of your selling strategy. Wouldn’t you want to know what caused the rejection before heading into your next sales meeting with the next prospect?
Use resources effectively
If you weren’t born a natural salesperson, consider hiring or using a broker. Working with a salesperson or broker will also give you more time to focus on your product.
“Not every founder is going to be a natural salesperson, and the sooner you recognize your strengths and weaknesses the sooner you can bring on the right type of talent to grow the business.”
-Dana McCauley, Food Starter
Acquiring online customers
Today, selling online is a great avenue to demonstrate successful sales. There are many barriers to entry for a small startup supplier trying to get into retail stores by hitting the pavement; the time demands, transportation costs, making appointments and selling indirectly to store owners versus getting feedback right from the customer. The path to selling online is an attractive alternative for suppliers looking for a direct channel to their customers. Consider adding e-commerce facility to your website using platforms like Gumroad, Squarespace, Magento, or WooCommerce.
If starting your own e-commerce channel isn’t feasible at the moment, selling your products on an existing online marketplace like Amazon.com is a great alternative.
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