When you start to actively approach new potential stockists and are trying to sell your product ranges you will come up against lots and lots of objections of why your range is not quite right for their shop. Some of these are just excuses but it is always good to get more in-depth feedback when possible as some of them might be something you can work on or help with to turn a negative into a positive.
As a small independent company, you are often able to be more flexible, and gathering feedback from your stockists is important for your product development and for building a relationship with your stockists.
It won’t be easy, no-one likes to be rejected, not even the most experienced sales professional and even if we always try to not take it personally sometimes it can be frustrating, it can make you feel self-conscious, intimidated, and like you want to crawl under the duvet and hide in a cocoon. If you don’t have a whole team of people around, it can be difficult to continue to approach new retailers if you’re having one of those days but just remember the next call can be to someone who absolutely loves your products and gives you a ton of positive feedback. Running your own business is always going to be a roller-coaster!
There’s nothing like being prepared, having an idea of the types of excuses you might get so that you can have a think of your answer will make you come across more confident and more reliable, this is important as shop owners need to get a feeling that you know what you’re doing to buy from you. For them taking on a new supplier is a big investment and they will have had their fair share of bad and unreliable suppliers, so they will need to be confident in both you and your products to buy into your brand.
The most important thing is to really listen to their feedback, don’t be defensive, be thankful that someone is taking the time to tell you why your products are not quite right for them. The easiest for a shop owner would just be to ignore your emails or calls so be appreciative of their time.
Offer a solution
If possible, offer a workaround or a solution but if the excuse is something you can not offer a solution to, be appreciative and thank the buyer for their time and move on to the next lead. There’s a lot of potential stockists out there so if you think it’s not going to happen, move on.
Here are some of the most common objections I hear all the time
It’s too expensive?
This is where the market research that you did when you set your prices is important. If you know that the store stock a similar product that is cheaper than yours then point out the positives about your product, what makes it more expensive? Perhaps yours is made in the UK in small batches but your competitors manufacture theirs in the Far East, or perhaps you use higher quality ingredients that are costlier. Only point out things that would be a unique selling point for the store.
The style doesn’t fit in with my ranges?
This is quite open for interpretation, if possible, ask for more feedback, is it too modern, too young? or are the colours not right? Other than asking for feedback and keeping it in mind for the future there’s not much you can do here, if you disagree and you know that your products sell in other places that sell similar brands then do try again but chances are that you won’t change the buyers mind.
I don’t stock that category of products
I’ve come across this a lot, I sold both beauty and books to fashion stores before it was part of their range planning. Show how your customer profile is very similar to yours and how many you sold in the last month/year, or give examples of similar retailers to them that are doing really well with your range. If the retailer is going to start to stock something completely new you will need to be convincing, let your passion and knowledge shine through rather than being pushy. Be confident, buyers are constantly looking for new products so don’t let the fact that they are not currently stocking something similar put you off or intimidate you.
Your minimum order is too large (If you’re unsure of any of the terminology, click here to view my Jargon buster)
Sometimes, if this is the case this stockist is perhaps not the right match for you but when you start out it can also be that you set your minimum to high for the number of products you have meaning the stockist would have to buy too many of the styles they like. If you keep getting this as an excuse, then do review your minimums. If you think this is the perfect retailer for your range, then I would say that you’re so confident that they will do well with the range and therefore you would be happy to offer them a lower minimum order value for their first order.
I already have several other suppliers that do the same thing
Ask the buyer how they perform, what does the best, if they are likely to review their range soon, and if they are, make a note of when and make sure to get back in touch. If not, ask if they would like you to keep them up to date with any new products you’re launching.
It’s a quiet time of the year for my shop
Ask when it usually picks up and when they start buying again. Also, try to get feedback on your range, do they like it? Do they think it would fit into their store? If positive, make a note and get back in touch closer to that time.
I don’t have any budget
This is a common excuse, particularly at the moment, retail is tough, and sales are difficult to predict. Find out if it’s the wrong time of the year or when they think they might be looking at adding new products again. Make a note to get in touch closer to that time.
There’s a lot of different advice out there to sell your products, I think as a small business owner your passion and product knowledge will always shine through. Independents like to deal with small businesses as it often gives them a chance of stocking something different that is not stocked everywhere else and they like dealing with the business owner as they know their feedback will be heard and they are dealing with someone that really cares.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back or you do, and it’s not positive news, there are lots of different statistics out there but in my experience, it takes somewhere between 10-20 emails/calls to get just one reply and there’s no guarantee that they will buy. Doing research and only contacting retailers that you really believe your range would fit in with will really help and should improve these figures a bit.
It is important to remember who you contacted and what they said. I like to use a CRM (customer relationship management) system to help me remember who said what. This way I can avoid contacting the same buyer again only to get the same reply or when there are new products to sell I know what feedback they gave on the last collection.
There are lots of free options out there that can integrate with your email system. At the moment, I’m using the free version of Hubspot which I am finding relatively easy to use. If you don’t want to add another system to your workload, set up a simple excel file and keep it up to date.
If you would like some more personal advice about any aspect of wholesale, please get in touch with me, I have both one-off sessions and longer programs to offer. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram. I also have a Facebook group, Let’s talk Wholesale, where I share tips, answer questions, and am building a community so that when you’re having one of those days where everyone is saying no, we can all support each other and encourage you to get back out there.
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