Do you want to wholesale your products – but the thought of cold calling put you in a cold sweat?
“Cold calling” is picking up the phone and calling people you don’t know with the view to selling them something.
I’m not sure about you, but when I first started my business the thought of cold calling scared the crap outta me. I was so fearful that my hands would get all shaky and clammy and my cheeks would go all red!
This is a real fear that stops soooo many amazing productpreneurs from pursuing wholesale.
And I’m here to tell you – you CAN be successful in wholesale. And if you, like I was, are a bit of an introvert and find this stuff scary – there is a strategy you can employ to get around this fear.
Here’s my introvert’s guide to wholesale
Beat the fear of rejection and become a sales pro
The number one reason most people hate (or have a fear of) selling, is the fear of rejection. We don’t want to come across like we’re ‘selling’ people something they don’t want. And we certainly don’t want to come across like a fool.
So you’ll be happy to know that “shouty ad” tactics that are aggressive, loud, “extroverted” or pushy generally don’t work.
In fact, I’ve turned the whole concept of ‘sales’ on the head. I never sell!
Instead, become a really good listener, develop the ability to problem-solve and to connect to people on an emotional level.
1. Research your prospects
The first step you need to take is to draw up a list of potential retail stores you want to approach.
Do your research here not just to make sure they are an ideal prospect to stock your particular products.
You also find out as much as you can about them. What are they particularly passionate about? What sets them apart from their competitors?
For example, a Pharmacy chain I used to sell into weren’t like most other pharmacies. Their point of difference was having a variety of health experts on staff (ie a naturopath, baby nurse and beauty therapist). So they were ideal prospects to sell a natural baby nappy (diaper).
2. Connect with them on social media
One of the hardest things about sales calls, as I said, is that fear of rejection. And that rejection can come pretty fast – retail business owners are busy and field many sales reps, so it’s hard to get their ear, right?
So before you ever make a first approach to a retailer with the view to getting them to stock your products, connect with them on social media.
And by ‘connect’ I mean – interact with some of their posts. Comment with a thoughtful, intelligent response.
What this does is it introduces you to them before you ever speak to them (so you don’t come across as a total stranger).
It also helps to build rapport with them. So when you do speak to them the first time, you can mention the cool/interesting/engaging social media post and why you appreciated what they had to say.
Making this effort is not only a fantastic ice-breaker. But it also encourages reciprocity (ie they may feel like they ‘owe’ you and therefore be more likely to buy from you. Or at least listen to what you have to offer!)
3. Build your script
Now, if you’re an introvert like me, then you’ll be very tempted to write out an entire script and learn it off by heart. (Or even read it on the phone!)
Don’t do this! The listener can SO tell and it never works…
However, you DO want to practice your opening and closing statements. (I like to start with a brief introduction of myself and then ask if they have a ‘quick minute’, which is much less threatening to the listener!)
And when you finish off, let them know you’ll follow up with them in a few days’ time.
4. Focus your attention on them
A successful sales person is often a great conversationalist. They’ll ask questions to get the other person talking, and they will do a lot of listening.
What you’re doing here is getting the retailer to sell themselves your product!
So make sure you have an idea of at least one leading question you can ask. I reckon it’s a good idea to ask how they’re going, or how their business is going. Perhaps ask what have been their best sellers recently, or what’s not selling well.
If your initial research uncovered a particular topic that the store focuses on – ask them about that.
And definitely ask if they’re open to looking at a new product. This gives you permission to talk about your brand, and this is where you really need to know what your unique sales proposition is. A short, snappy statement here can be VERY persuasive!
5. Track your progress
As with anything worthwhile in life – practice makes perfect. So make notes on how your call went, what you think worked well and what didn’t.
Also make notes of how many calls you make before you get a ‘yes’. How many retailers did you have to call before one bought from you? And how many times did you have to call those who signed on before they bought?
Over time, if you learn you need to make 5 calls in order to get 1 stockist, and that stockist is worth $X to you, then all of a sudden the results become more predictable. (I don’t know about you, but a predictable sales result sounds pretty good to me!)
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Updated 11th June 2019