Today’s article comes from Laura Rigney, author of Pitching Products for Small Business. Laura’s book helps you along the path from developing your product to branding and pitching your idea to buyers at high street and online retailers.
1 – Ensure you have a strong brand.
When you are trying to bring your product to market, you will be seen immediately beside your biggest competition so you need to stand out as much as possible. Think like a consumer; what sort of packaging appeals to you? What kind of branding do you like? Take a look at the branding of other similar products and see what they all have in common and use this knowledge to your advantage. Most importantly, make sure that it is clear to potential purchasers what your product is and what it does!
2 – Be confident with your pricing.
Selling in wholesale is a whole new ball park as far as pricing is concerned. You need to make your product attractive to buyers with your pricing. Most retailers want a large mark up to cover their overheads. A great way to show that you are trying to help retailers is to setup a structured pricing system i.e : 100 units or less £xx per unit, 101 – 500 units £xx per unit and 501 units or more £xx per unit. This system will also encourage buyers to place larger orders.
3 – Market research is your friend.
You love your product but does anyone else feel the same way? A great way to find out is to get some trials done. If it’s possible, send out samples to various people within your target market and get their feedback, good and bad. The bad will help you to enhance your product and the good will help to sell it to retailers.
4 – Understand your product inside out
This means technical data as well as knowing why someone would buy it. When you get a meeting, you’ll need to be able to talk with confidence about where the product is made, by who, and using what kind of materials. Remember that there is pressure on retailers to “go green”, so the more you can do that as a potential supplier the more attractive you will be.
5 – Be prepared.
If a buyer places an order, how quickly will you have manufacturing, distribution and storage in place? Buyers won’t expect a new small business to have a giant factory sitting waiting for someone to press the “go” button. But they will want a realistic estimate of how long it can be till you can have your product in their warehouses. Once you have given your timings, stick to them. Even if this means exaggerating the time it will take for them to be delivered. Better to be early rather than late!
6 – Establish your buyer
Most stores have an army of buyers. You need to find out who is the most appropriate for your product. This can usually be done by a simple phone call but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s going to be that easy to actually speak to them.
7 – First impressions really do count.
When you make initial contact with the buyer it has to be perfect or you will not get any further. This can be done either by email, phone or, my favourite, send them a sample with a covering letter. This instantly grabs their attention and makes them want to investigate your product a little more rather than just deleting your email or avoiding you calls.
8 – Pitch perfect
If you are successful enough to be granted an opportunity to pitch to them in person you need to make the most of it. Ensure that your pitch is informative, exciting and interesting and where possible have evidence of past sales and customer satisfaction to hand out. You need to know your figures without having to look through paperwork. These figures need to be at the front of your mind.
9 – Haggling
As previously stated, your finances can mean ‘deal or no deal’ when it comes to pitching to buyers. If at first they don’t agree to your prices start to haggle. Always have a minimum figure in the back of your mind that you are not prepared to go below. Remember, if they like your product enough and you have sold it well enough they will buy it even if it’s a few pennies more than they would like to pay. Sometimes it may be worth offering a larger than normal discount as a trial for their first order.
10 – Staying listed
When a company takes on your product it’s called being ‘listed’. Once you are listed the work is just beginning! It is now your job to ensure that you remain listed for as long as possible. The way to do this is through marketing and PR. The more you promote your product and the stores that are selling them, the more they will be bought by consumers thus encouraging buyers to place more orders with you!
You can learn much more about getting your product into high street and online stores in Laura’s book Pitching Products for Small Business.