Your goal as a professional sales associate, should you choose to accept it, is to secure a meeting with a buyer and present your product as the best option among all others a buyer has to choose from. That is a tall task in this hyper-competitive market.
It requires a good product that matches what the end consumer is looking for, good communication of benefits, and an understanding of the retailer’s needs. In order for those all to match up it requires effort on the part of the sales professional to apply basic sales skills used in any industry and apply it specifically your products and services. So how do you take all these elements to prepare for a buyer meeting? The following four considerations will give you what you need to best 90% of the competition.
1. I am going to assume that you have the basic sales skills needed to present product and get an order. How often do you refine this skill? You probably read books by Tom Hopkins, Jeffrey Gitomer, Nido Qubein, Brian Tracy or other sales professionals to get started. If not, look them up and get some of their materials. But even if you did learn from them at the start of your career, have you updated your knowledge base as your career has gone forward. If not, study the new ways of selling and communicating and it may give you an edge. I am a big learner in my car. My wife and kids call my car the “knowledge capsule” because they don’t ever get into it without some kind of book on CD or my new favorite app “Audible” playing over the audio system. If you don’t have a comfort level with basic sales techniques invest in yourself and your career with sales books or better yet books on CD or MP3 so you can listen and learn as you travel between stops.
2. In blog post 3 in this series I discussed basic furniture sales techniques to position your product in the marketplace that all come into play when preparing to meet the buyer. I discussed the need for you to know your product better than anything else, to know your competitors product, and to know your customer. Review that blog post as it pertains directly to meeting with the buyer. You have successfully positioned your product in the marketplace and now you have to take it to the next step of being specific with one account and one buyer. Take into account specifically the need to understand features and benefits of your products in relation to all other options.
3. Walk the floor with an eye to how you will be able to help the buyer with your product offerings. Think as you go up and down the aisles of a store what products in your bag will sell in that environment and why. This will need to be communicated to the buyer because they are not looking at the products like you do. Is it a better offering because of price, features, delivery (If competitor item marked out of stock)? Maybe you find a competitors offering that is superior to what you have (It happens). Don’t waste the buyer’s time by showing them your option. In other words, know the sales floor in your category before going in to buyer’s office (or seeing them at market). That way you can talk intelligently about what you saw and how your offerings may pose a better alternative for some of the items the buyer currently runs. It amazes me when I salesperson shows up without ever having walked a retailer’s floor. Don’t be that guy!
4. Finally, look out to what the retailer is trying to accomplish with his merchandising mix. Are they about advertising name brands or house brands? Do they want instant delivery or custom order? Are they about advertised price or image? Whatever their assortment and strategy is, your product needs to fit. If it doesn’t then don’t waste your time. But if it does fit, then present clearly why this is something that can be successful to help them reach the customer they want to reach.
That’s it. Not too difficult but it requires some thought before walking in to the buyer’s office and blindly showing pictures in hopes of a sale. It’s a week until market. Walk a retailer’s floor or two before then so you can talk to the retailer about what you saw and how your new offerings will be an advancement over what they have currently. Good luck and have a great market. As always, feel free to leave your positive responses below.