We get about 10 emails a day from overseas suppliers, wanting to pitch products and about 2-3 per day from local suppliers. I also get about 10 emails a day from supplier EDM’s on what’s new or what’s trending. I’m the CEO, so you can imagine, my buyers inbox is even more cluttered with suppliers wanting to get products into our store.
They are typically catalogue style emails with something along the lines of “you need to have this, it will sell great in your store”. Its very fatiguing and yes sure, we scroll through them, but not a lot of care is taken to really consider what’s on offer because we just get so much pushed at us. We are looking for things that stand out.
If you’re doing this then a small tip is to make it easy for the buyer to get all the information without cluttering the page. So imagery is good with some small description at first and maybe more detail in a table at the end (e.g. pricing, dimensions, etc).
Attachments just wont get opened unless you have grabbed me in the email. The biggest tip with this method of emailing would be to personalise the email. Start out by saying “these products will be perfect for your customer because XYZ” and ensure the product really does suit the business. This approach tells me you have thought about my business/brand and how this fits in well with my offering. If I really think you have thought how the products suit my offering, I am more likely to take it seriously and better still, each time you email me I am likely to remember you as they guy that pitches me good stuff (even if I haven’t bought previously). Don’t send your whole catalogue, leave your website for that, just send me a curated snippet of what you believe is good for me. IF you tailor your email, its more likely to get cut through.
In addition to tailoring your communication, there are some major factors that impact a pitch that really get me to push everything aside and do a proper review of the pitch.
Here are my three main tips;
1. Best Sellers
I get frustrated when the suppliers tell me “this is hot right now” when they have just launched a product and haven’t had any reorders. What this tells me is that retailers are trying it, but it doesn’t mean it’s selling. Much of the time its not actually hot and the supplier clears it weeks later. Certainly they get it right a lot of the time too but I just don’t believe them when they say “this is hot” anymore. So talk to you retailers about reorders not initial orders when determining what is hot. Ideally if you can tell me your top selling lines I don’t stock, this is a great report that will get me thinking about taking on a few extra products. Do this by category so that you can show the best sellers I don’t stock in each category for even better results.
2. Sell Or Return
This is by far my best strategy that is usually a win-win for the retailer and the supplier. This works best when the idea is that the supplier can get more range into the store (or trial more range) and the retailer doesn’t have the stock risk. This is not consignment so the retailer still needs to pay for the stock on normal terms however if it doesn’t sell, they can send it back. I have had many products I told suppliers wouldn’t work and then we did them anyway on sale or return and well, I was wrong and they sold well. If the supplier truly believes their products are going to go well, they should employ this strategy. I have generally kept on range about 90% of the items I have done like this so the suppliers are definitely happy with the strategy and this is obvious by the fact they continue to expand the SOR (Sell Or Return) program and do as much of it with me as we have space for.
3. Consignment Stock
If sell or return isn’t going to work, consignment is an even bigger enticement to get me to stock more of your products. This deal certainly favours the retailer who doesn’t have to pay for the stock until it sells so the risk and cash flow impact all sit with the supplier. It is however a huge benefit to the retailer to engage this type of deal and so if you cant get Sell Or Return to work, try offering consignment. It’s certainly a show of confidence from the supplier that they back their products to sell.
With any strategy a key issue is trust, and it’s important that suppliers are trusted by their retailers or at least the retailer trusts the sales rep. If you’re a new supplier, this can be difficult to build and so certainly Sell Or Return or Consignment is a great way to get your foot in the door. If you can develop a great trusting relationship, then you can get creative with deals and work on a true partnership that ultimately gets a win-win for both sides selling more.
Dean Salakas — Chief Party Dude