Prospecting for new customers is tough. They don’t know you and you have no idea how they work. There are all kinds of hurdles sales professionals have to jump before getting that first sale. Many times it comes down to persistence and a deep understanding of how you can help the retailer make more sales. A successful sales person looks at it from the point of view of the buyer and not from the self interested side of trying to sell whatever he or she can.
Recently I saw an email exchange between a buyer and a prospecting sales rep. Since I was not involved I could look at the conversation trail very dispassionately from both sides.
On the sales representative’s side of the conversation I saw ET – email throw up. The email listed everything that was in the rep’s bag with links to a company website to find more info about the product. Why on earth would an overworked, busy retailer spend half of a minute to do anything other than hit the delete button? It wasn’t that the email was bad — in fact it was well crafted linguistically. The big mistake was the email showed no personalization whatsoever to the retailer or why the product that was offered would be important to the retailer.
Additionally I sensed a bit of attitude like let’s just put it all out there and maybe get lucky. It’s like fishing with everything you can find in the refrigerator. There may be some right bait in there that will attract the fish you want to catch but there also is a lot of garbage that fish do not want to weed through. Consequently, all the garbage scares the fish away.
Of course the retailer’s response was curt and to the point of basically don’t waste my time. He gets lots of other reps presenting product all the time. Many do the same thing of saying I have a product and you should buy it. But some reps actually go into his store and tailor a message of a product that he is missing and why he could use it to advance his sales. They do not present everything but go in with their best shot and communicate specifically why it will work for that retailer.
The professional sales rep may also go to a competitor across the street to sell his or her wares. But the presentation for that retailer will be entirely different based on customization for that retailer. It may be a different product line altogether with no mention of the product presented to the first retailer across the street because that does not fit the format of the second retailer.
If you have something like fabric protection then one size fits all. Otherwise the presentations need to be customized to the individual retailers so they know you understand their customer and offer an actual solution that will work.
Get started with a retailer is the most important thing you can do. Everything in your future with that account is based on getting started. You can’t have the second sale or tenth sale without the first sale. Spend time and effort figuring out how you can get started with a customer. What’s your best shot to get in the door? Focus on that and see where it takes you.
As always feel free to leave positive comments below.
PS. Less than three weeks before market. Hopefully you are getting all your appointments locked down. One event that should be on your schedule is the IHFRA rep event. The Furniture Industry Awards Gala is almost sold out so if you don’t have your ticket, send a request for information to firstname.lastname@example.org.