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How to sell to retail stores – 19 tips for success

A little while ago we reached out to you, our Launch Grow Joy readers, and asked you to share with us your best tips on how to sell to retail stores and selling your products wholesale. So many of you answered (THANK YOU!), so we decided to create a list of your best tips on how to sell to retail stores.

Whether you decide to sell to small independent or local boutiques or to large national retailers, you'll find some great tips here. And if you have a tip that you'd like to share, make sure to leave a comment below to let us know.

How to Sell to Retail Stores – Your Best Tips

1. Go after the big retailers

This is a particularly good strategy if they have a supplier diversity program that you qualify for.  Although a lot of variables come into play when it comes to a buyer making a decision about including your product in their assortment, at the end of the day, it really boils down to whether they like your product or not.  The buyer that happens to love your product could work for Walmart, or a local mom and pop, so I recommend going after big and small retailers simultaneously.  Usually, it takes a bit longer to secure the buyer appointment with the larger retailers, so while you are waiting for that appointment, you build your sales history with the individually owned and operated retailers where you can get your product in a lot faster.  – Thanks to Jennifer Zachery from The Bead Barrette

2. Exhibit at trade shows

Our wholesale business has grown the most by exhibiting at select trade shows that deliver high volume qualified traffic, and then engaging prospective wholesale customers with a passionate enthusiasm for our product. – Thanks to Julie Buzby of Dr. Buzby's Toe Grips for Dogs

3. Niche marketing, PR and social media

We took our product offering and tailored items to different kinds of people. We had things like The Wizard of Oz, Popeye, and Betty Boop which hit children, but was also retro to hit adults. We did a whole food-themed line to interest people who love chocolate, people who love wine, BBQ, Cupcakes, Coffee, etc. We added KISS for the rocker group and even religious ones. Now we returned the rubber duck industry to America where it all began and are the only ones making them here again….once again…great niche and great PR opportunities! – Thanks to Craig Wolfe of CelebriDucks

4. Persistence

One must call on established and new accounts via direct mail, email and phone on a regular ongoing basis. Use the buddy system! I have a colleague in Los Angeles, she and I stage a “contest” to motivate one other to call on new accounts (cold calls). We are not really competing although we challenge each other to see how many accounts we can call in an hour by staging the so-called contest. – Thanks to Joy Light of Joy Hand Painted Silk

5. Develop a distribution network for your products

Depending on your product and its use, your distribution network may be retail establishments and or retail service providers that may use your product in their business.  By establishing a distribution network you will expand your products footprint and develop a sales force for your products without having to directly pay for the sales.  Offering a multi-tiered distribution program that rewards a distributor with lower wholesale prices based on the amount of product sold, can help to create incentives for the distributors to use products. – Thanks to Brian Smith Omni Containment Systems

6. Think Outside of the Box!

Because I have a very niche product, fashion accessories for medical walking boots, I can't go any of the “traditional routes” of selling wholesale.  Instead, I went to LinkedIn and found the companies that already sell the boots to the orthopedic offices and pharmacies.  The products go hand-in-hand so it's a win-win.  It gets me directly to the people who sell the boots and it gets the sales reps into their existing accounts or potential new accounts with a new product.- Thanks to Christina Daves of CastMedic Designs

7. Understand your retail buyer

At the most basic level, you need to understand the type of buyer who will benefit from carrying your products and focus your efforts toward that group when you sell to retail stores.  What industry are you truly in – are you apparel or souvenir resort wear for example?  Are you looking to sell to independent stores or larger corporate buyers?  These can be entirely different strategies. Industry trade shows are still perhaps the best way to get in front of store buyers, even though this can be very expensive.  There are also “online sales reps” for many industries that will sell your product for a commission.  Many of the wholesale accounts we have obtained have become excellent, long term buyers.  Many small and independent stores like to shop this way because they can order from many merchants at one time and each merchant gets a separate PO. – Thanks to Jon Kurtz of Dog is Good

8. Find the right contact info

To sell to retail stores, you should get the name of someone at the company you wish to sell to.  Sending blind letters, samples or emails rarely if ever, gets your product into the right hands.  It doesn't have to be the right person.  If you ask politely, often someone will tell you who the right person is.  You can even use that “wrong” person as a reference.  For instance, “John in accounting told me I should speak to you”.  You can look online or just call and ask who you should contact.  Social media such as LinkedIn & Twitter are also great resources.  Once you've found the right contact, don't just contact them once and forget about them.  Without being a pest, follow up periodically. – Thanks to Gary Castelle of Magnum Plastics Inc

9. Offer online ordering

The most effective strategy to sell to retail stores we have had is offering an online application to potential wholesale buyers and then providing they are approved they are given login information to our site which allows them to view their wholesale pricing in real-time on our online shopping cart and to purchase online. We also allow companies to purchase on credit providing they are eligible after filling out our credit application. Many large companies (who would purchase in wholesale quantities) require the ability to purchase on terms for their accounting so by allowing this you are opening up your company for sales to these large corporations or government agencies. – Thanks to Nathan McBride of Absolute Automation

10. Follow up with trade show attendees

Our best tip to sell to retail stores if you don’t have the funds to travel around to every trade show (which most startups do not) is to find the trade show that makes the most sense for your products and types of buyers you are looking for and attend so you can not only gain orders right away but you will hopefully leave with several warm leads.  You can also get a buyer attendee list that you can begin following up on as soon as you arrive back home.  Trade shows are also a great way to network with other manufacturers and share resources.  Aside from trade shows (because not all may be worth your time and money) we make spreadsheets with all of the retailers we would like to target, we then start going down the list reaching out.   Don’t get frustrated – this process can be deflating at times – but persistence does pay off! – Thanks to Lyssa Surface of LillyBit

11. Embrace networking

My best tip for selling my product wholesale is networking new vendors who own boutiques at Events. I have networked with many new vendors who love my product and wanted to sell to their customers. This has been one of my best ways to meet and make money, along with meeting and networking my name to others I would not have met. Its a great way to get my name out and people to visit my website. – Thanks to Carleen Swingler of SwingBagz, LLC

12. Contact buyers directly

It is much easier to sell my baked goods when I can speak to the buyer directly and tell them why my Biscotti is so unique, and give them a sample on the spot. Being able to touch, feel, smell or taste anything makes it much more appealing. And if I don't make a sale, the person I am speaking with is usually very willing to refer me to another person or company who may be. – Thanks to Katy Kassian of Buffalo Gals Bakery

13. Develop relationships with the buyers.

Give them small samples of something you think might do well at their store/dept. and ask for their feedback in scent choice etc. No one knows their customers as they do. – Thanks to Roberta Perry of Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc.

14. Introduce your products to store-level managers

If you can first succeed at getting an individual store to take a look at your product and then commit to spending the time and effort demoing your product, you will likely be granted the opportunity to present your products to the state or region.  Sometimes, larger chains only deal through their corporate/regional headquarters and in that case, do your best to gather support from the local stores. Try to get a number of local stores to say that they would be interested in carrying your product and take those comments to the regional buyer. Doing this will save the regional buyer a lot of work because you have already proved that there is potential support for your product at the store level. – Thanks to Mike Schultz of Sedulous Foods

15. Start blogging and sponsor product giveaways

Blogging has been a large factor in our company getting noticed on search engines. We have also found that testimonials of our product are a huge contributor. As a result, we sponsor product giveaways from time to time on large lifestyle blog sites.  The owners of these sites have large loyal followings and their followers take their advice. So when a blogger tells their readership that they have reviewed the product and that it is a value, they listen. The blog writer also likes the giveaway as it is a way to give back to their devoted followers and gives them something to write about. – Thanks to Steve C of Vero Linens

16. Get a referral

The most effective way on how to sell to retail stores and get into a buyer's office is through a referral or an existing relationship.  It is so important for the entrepreneur to put themselves in the buyer's shoes.  They are usually inundated with new products, new companies.  Do you have something that is going to make the buyer “look good?”  Does it fit with the buyers' business model, is it retail ready (good packaging and pop) is it in the right price range, etc.  Do some research on the potential customer. – Thanks to Gail Sanders-Luckman of Kumfy Tailz

17. Secure appointments at trade shows

The most effective and efficient way for our company to sell our products wholesale is to be an exhibitor at one of the top trade shows in the country for our industry. The one we have been attending is called SuperZoo in Las Vegas. This is a trade show closed to only retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and groomers. So instead of us approaching retailers individually and spending a lot of time and money, retailers come to our booth. Big box buyers who are usually very difficult to get hold of are there at the trade show too. So we managed to secure an appointment with one of them during the trade show which later turned into many ongoing purchase orders from them. We are not supplying to the TJX Corporation of companies which consists of TJMaxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Winners Canada and Homesense Canada. – Thanks to Athena Yap of Jackboy's Dog Bakery

18. Ask your customers to refer you

We have been doing a grass-root sales effort ourselves in order to sell to retail stores. Our best leads come from our current customers. We ask them to mention us to their colleagues or for their suggestions of other stores they think we should call on. Something else that goes along with this is that we look at our most successful stores and the lines they carry. We then will do research on other stores that carry the same lines and either call them or email them. These strategies seem to be the most effective for us. – Thanks to AnnDee Beckerman of Infinity Headbands

19. Try cold calling

One of the best ways I've found to sell to retail stores is through cold calling. It's also free. My biggest mistake was spending tens of thousands of dollars on trade shows before I even learned how to sell my product. If you actually pick up the phone and connect with a live person you will quickly understand what their needs are and if they're even looking for a product like yours. Sometimes, even if they like the product, the timing is wrong or they already have too many products in your category. – Thanks to Julie Austin of HydroSport

Do you have a great tip on how to sell to retail stores? If so, please leave a comment below and share your best tip on how to sell to retail stores.

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    1. Absolutely, after they place an order, I send free samples of other products. Guess what… They will order them too! You should also think about their display and what it may need to compliment their order.

      When doing snail mail, I try to send samples. People love their senses. Give them a chance to feel, touch, smell, etc.

    2. Be careful about sending unsolicited samples to big chains. A mom and pop shop will love samples. But big chains are inundated with samples. I was a buyer for 12 years at 3 different big chains. At times there were whole pallets of samples I didn’t want and couldn’t use. I couldn’t personally use them (company policy) and I didn’t have room in my assortment for all of them. The samples either ended up in the trash or donated. Samples became the bane of my existance and it was really off-putting to receive piles of unsolicited samples. I was less likely to buy from someone if they kept sending me sample after sample after sample. Before you waste your time, energy, and money sending samples to a chain store, be sure they really want them.

  1. Well, i agree its very difficult, but we had a little help from the TV show called Shark-tank. I never did accept going on the show, but the letter received from Shark Tank “Heather” help a lot. To date… we now have over 900,000 grips in circulation and growing. No…i don’t have the big store yet, but i’m trying. I think I need a marketing expert person on board. 🙂

    1. Rob,
      What did you feature on shark tank? I have learned how to market several different products over my years, and would love to see if their is an opportunity to work with you

      1. Hey,
        I was just doing a little research on the best time to approach stores with my product for fall/winter. It’s a very unique accessory and I’ve never had anyone that didn’t love it. I’ts called a “yarf” and every one is unique and original. It is a side business and every year for 3 yrs now I’ve sold in a few local stores which the relationship began as they complimented my wearing one and asked if I’d sell them. The first store got 10 a few days before Christmas and within 24 hours purchased 30 more selling 189 in 3 weeks at $24 each. The next year I expanded to a few stores but since I have never marketed them cause usually have no time. But I love to make them. This year I have drafted a letter and sending a sample of 5 to select stores offering them the opportunity to test their market with the product at no cost to them until they place an additional order at which I’ll discount the five at 50%. If they chose not to place an order the yarfs are considered a gift. The retailers are making well over a 100% mark up with this product. I would love to do a trade show but I just don’t have the money at this time. Funding the product is no problem. I’m not sure as to when the best time to send the samples and brochure out. I’d like to send them before retailers go to market. Any advice ? Or suggestions of business partners with interest in promoting things. As I said, I love making abs designing them but as an accountant I am limited in time to market.

        1. Timing on Christmas depends on the retailer. One owner shops can usually make quick decisions. A month or two before Thanksgiving might be ok there.
          But if you are looking at a chain retailer like big box or a department store, they are probably done buying Christmas by April at the latest. One place I bought for is bought for apparel 18 months out. They can slide a few things in until about 5-6 months out but its less likely to end up in advertising or in store assortments. Their hardlines departments are usually only bought 4 months out but still finish Christmas up ASAP, almost as soon as Christmas is over they are buying for the next one. That was a Fortune 1000 company.
          Small or regional chains are a little more flexible with time. One smaller chain I bought for had a quick turn around on advertising so I could do “special buys” with about 4-6 weeks notice. Each retailer is going to have their own methods and rules around seasonal buying and if you miss their buying window, you won’t get an order. If you want to hit chains of any size, you should err on the side of early.

      1. Hi Rob,
        Do you have any advice where can I find fashion business consultant?
        Is the Consultant Pro a consulting agency?

      2. Hi!
        I recently launched my first collection as fashion designer for women’s apparel. How can I get in contact with retail company buyers? and get my product in stores?

  2. Great article. I’m now 6 months into starting my online clothing store and I must say that it was very difficult to sell anything at first and after attending festivals and markets things have picked up very fast. We’re now looking to get into wholesaling our product because we want to take our company to the next level. Thank to this blog we are definitely on the right track. Thank you for sharing these ideas. Keith Smith CEO

  3. I’ve learned that you must be prepare to give samples of your product out for FREE.
    This is how growth happen for our company. 🙂

    Rob, ceo

  4. This was an awesome and helpful article, thank you very much to everyone who contributed their advice and knowledge. And the those at Launch Grow Joy who put it together.

  5. Thank you Launch grow joy for the great advice. I am going to implement some of these ideas in my marketing plan. I will be sure to update you!

  6. question: I have my first collection ready to put to the stores with a help of a sale agent. I told my agent that I only accept paid orders from the buyers and she tells me that the stores will pay later, when I deliver the product. I am concerned because I have thought, that the buyers pay immediately when they order and I deliver the product in few months later. With immediate payment upon ordering I have the money for labor and fabrics. Is the agent right? how can I insure the shops will pay me later. I do not want to end up with overstock. Please advise, what should I do? what is the standard procedure? what should I expect? I want the stores to pay for my wholesale product when the order not few months later. can they at least pay half price for the total order? and the second half upon delivery?

    1. Daria, you can request payment from the stores right before the product ships. That way you don’t have to wait for the funds to come in. This works with smaller boutiques, but if you want to sell to larger stores, unfortunately you will have to wait for payment. So it will be up to you to decide which way you want to go!

    2. I’ve been in the wholesale business for over 10 years… For smaller independent boutiques we charge a credit card the day of shipping. Even many small boutiques though insist on terms though. Larger accounts are always on terms.

      1. Hi Andrea,
        I will soon be opening my own boutique. What items do you offer? Do you have a website you can direct me to? I’d love to meet new people and help both of our businesses grow! 🙂 I look forward to hearing from you. thanks!, Alexa

        1. Alexa, I know you are so excited about your venture…..What type of boutique? Just an FYI, our company provides graphic apparel to boutiques large and small. We offer custom design with your logo and label. We are not trying to build our own brand, we want to build yours.

        2. I started going from selling this guys sweaters as a stylist and retail associate in a small time famous store in la. Now we have a personal relationship and I’m going to join him in building his company, his sweatshirts/hoodies are phenomenal totally the grunge “well payed” rocker look, without overdoing it, simple yet well made and not very expensive at all. What would you all consider the best boutiques to reach out to in LA?

        3. Hi Alexa, just ran across this thread. Where is your store located? If you were interested in all-naturals skin care products, I’d love to share my info with you. We love to help promote our partners as well! Thanks! Melissa

        1. Net 30 is pretty standard in the retail business with smaller shops. If you deal with larger chain or box stores you’re looking at 60 to 90 at best, but they order often so there’s usually always something coming in. Offer a 2% or 3% discount for payment in 10 to 15 days on the net 30 and net45 terms and most folks will take advantage of it and you can get paid sooner. Also, develop some sort of freight program (Orders over $1,000 ship no charge, etc)

    3. If you have a good agent, you should trust her/him if she/he has been working with the retailer for some time. I give many of my stores terms. It was scary in the beginning.

      I Do this now:: First time orders require a credit card, then 30 day term.

    4. If you are looking at chains, they will want payment terms. Net 30 is usually the minimum. I worked for one retailer that wanted minimum Net 90. Wouldn’t do business with anyone that couldn’t do Net 90. (Big chain) Boutiques and mom and pop shops will probably be up for paying on shipment. But for chains, plan on them wanting to pay invoices after shipment.

  7. Hi Everyone
    I just started making and selling Whipped Shea Butter and is selling really great locally but my dream is sell them in big retailers shop. I know is not easy but hope i will get there soon.

    1. Abdulai,
      Selling your butters locally is a great way to begin your market research. I did that for approximately 1 year. What are you doing right now to prepare your products for the big retailers?

  8. We have a new cold brewed coffee line that we are ready to launch and would like to know how to reach the coffee buyers at the retail stores. Any list that can be purchased with contacts?

  9. This is a great article but I think it can be summed up a lot more simply.

    In short, selling to a small boutique owner or selling to a large buyer from an established retail entity is one in the same.

    Either way, you are talking to an individual(s) who based on your pitch decide whether they will buy or not. Yes, they are on different levels in regards to quantities, but either way business is business and if a buyer or manager feels your product can make their company money…then they will at least give you a try.

    Remember, people buy the “feeling” almost as much as they but your product. Remember their name, remember a neat fact about them and most importantly cache the information and use it as needed.

    Selling to a store or a large chain really only comes down to relationships and how effectively you can build them.

  10. Hi everyone. I make hair bows and I’m looking to get them in boutiques. Would it be best if I call the boutiques or would sending an email working?

  11. I making hand knit woman socks with flowers. This season women are going crazy for them. During the winter I have to many orders, so sometimes I have to refuse a lot of them.
    But, during the summer I have a more time to work with retailers who want to offer it to their customers. I can offer a big discount during the summer.

  12. Great article 🙂
    I started a lifestyle brand based in Morocco for almost a year now and my main objective is to sell to big retailers however for now i think it is very important to start small a little bit so I am only reaching out to concepts stores and boutiques that have the same philosophy as the brand. There is definitely a lot to learn

  13. Wireback &. Co. Candles
    I hand pour soy wax candles in my home. It is truly a science and I believe in my product. I have several vendor booths in local shops, and I also have 2 wholesale accounts. I just received an oportunity for a bigger wholesale account, but think I might have blown it due to my pricing. It’s difficult to put a lower price on something I Make in my own. It takes a lot of time and energy, and I want to be compensated for my hard work. I really need advice on wholesale.
    I also cold call boutiques and other shops which has been successful. I really think business owners are impressed when you are confident and excited about your product.

    1. My daughter hair has line of accessories for kids and ladies … In suggestions on buyers and distributers We have sold her product locally and have sponsers.

  14. If I did meet with a large retailer and they decided to put my product in their store (I’m selling dresses by the way). What would be a minimum quantity order they would ask for?

    1. Hi Miranda – buyers are almost always willing to answer this question if you just ask directly. It’s a logistical question that you (as the vendor) will need to know the answer to at some point anyways so don’t be intimidated! It’s a fair question. I ask buyers this all the time.

  15. Our established online business is branching out into the wholesale arena for the first time with a new jewelry line we have created for a niche products. I have complied a list of potential companies to contact but I was looking for ideas on the verbiage that should be used when you’re essentially cold calling a business. Suggestions?

  16. Could anyone tell me what the typical lead time is after a retailer places a wholesale order, to the supplier fulfilling it? A large retailer has just placed an order and wants it in 10days but it’s going to take my factory 20 days to manufacture and ship it to me. Is 10 days a normal request?

    1. Yes, that can be normal. Some retailers want their products right away, others are willing to wait. It’s up to you to decide if you are able to work with this particular retailer or not.

  17. Hi there. What are the usual payment terms for a boutique retail customer? In practical terms – once they are sent an order form, do they send it back with credit card details? And are they charged for it on the day of dispatch?

  18. I have a company that makes silk sleep masks. Is it customary for us to give a free display tray if they purchase over a certain amount? Feel like we can’t afford this

  19. Hi there, I’ll soon be opening my own boutique. Any advice on how to get a hold of wholesalers?
    I would love to offer unique garments and be able to meet with beginner wholesalers just to create new relationships.

    1. Hello Alexa,
      I know this was posted ages ago, but I would love to speak with you to see if my product would be a great fit for your boutique. Please get in touch, thank you!

  20. Great article and great comments! I’ve designed a Lunch Bag for women to help her eat healthier on the go without sacrificing style or feeling embarrassed. Launched 2 months ago, feedback is good, however, I want to become a wholesaler and I’ve been trying so hard to reach out to local boutiques, then not too local, and now I’m even trying in the US (I live in Canada). I found it really hard to do all the job by myself, I have done phone calls, email, mailed free samples as well… I am also trying to reach out to big chains, but as you mentioned it’s almost impossible to reach out to a buyer. You’re right, Linkedin and Twitter are great. My concerns are: When you do it all in your business, how do you know what price to offer that will be a WIN WIN, considering you’ll grow in the future? I was told that trade shows are for businesses who already have built their clientele, is that right? How can I be certain about which stores pitch? I mean a Lunch Bag can be an accessory, but it’s also viewed as a storage at the department stores. So I’m a little confused about which boutique target, is it gift shops? clothing and accessories shops? home and kitchen? Thank you so much.

  21. I’m looking to start wholesaling my apparel line and wondering how to price out my t-shirts initially. My cost is $8 for a long sleeve printed one. Is there a general rule of thumb? Also should I expect that my shirts are treated as consignment or should I expect to be paid upon delivery?

  22. Hi I’m confused on how selling wholesale products work to retailers. Do the buyers, buy at the wholesalers cost and then the store makes the profit? And the person making the products only gets paid for the wholesaler costs and doesn’t make anything after that? I’m super new at this and have a potential store that I may sell to, but not sure how this works. Could someone please help clarify how this works?

  23. Hi,

    I designed my own comforter sets for children. I would like to find shoppers that might be interested to buy from me but I don’t know where to start. Can anyone help.

    Thanks in advance

  24. I make hand painted tiles with ink and paint. They are beautiful and one of a kind. My question is, I have thoughts and ideas to market them myself to stores such as Home Goods, Marshall’s, TJMaxx etc. What is the probability of going directly to the stores and showing my wares with a successful and favorable outcome?

    1. Hi Shelly,

      You could (and should) market your tiles to those stores directly! There’s a common misconception that you must work with sales reps or other “connected” people to get into larger chain stores. This is not true! In fact, the stores you specifically mentioned look to bring in new merchandise quite often. They want their floors to look “fresh” to their customers, so they are always looking for new product.

      I highly recommend you sign up for our 6-day free email course.

      The first lesson will address many of your questions! Some topics we cover include how to find a buyer, and what to say in the email pitch.

      Hope this helps!

  25. I would love some help on getting my kids line, kiddykites, out there, need help with marketing and exposure. We have social media presence and everyone that has purchased out product loves it and encourages me to try to put it in stores but I have no idea where to begin!

  26. We have just begun our business and received our first large shipment a month ago. We started cold calling and got a few leads. We have also sent out samples to two larger scale retailers and they loved them. One was committed to making an order and we signed a vendor agreement and submitted it Monday. Now two days later we are still waiting for the buyer to send us the order. Is this normal in the industry? Also would you have any recommendations to get in contact with any specific buyers for handbags that are very unique. Our competition is selling an almost identical product in Barney’s and Nordstrom. So we would think this should be a pretty easy sell. Do we let potential customers know about the competition?

  27. I have a fashion jewelry brand. I was selling pretty good in Russia, now moved to USA. Trying to use same tools to find new accounts, but it doesn’t work this way. I sent more that 100 letters in two days and visited about 20 stores to promote my new collection. For some reason I didn’t receive any feedback. Silence. What I am doing wrong?

  28. I started going from selling this guys sweaters as a stylist and retail associate in a small time famous store in la. Now we have a personal relationship and I’m going to join him in building his company, his sweatshirts/hoodies are phenomenal totally the grunge “well payed” rocker look, without overdoing it, simple yet well made and not very expensive at all. What would you all consider the best boutiques to reach out to in LA?

  29. Several contributors mention identifying the best markets taking into account target market and attendance. How do you mine the information to make this determination? I have a new wholesale jewelry business and would like to take my product to market. I need advice on how to pick the best markets to attend.

  30. Having been in retail for 43 years, with a shop of my own for 23, and can say many of these ideas are helpful for how to reach a retailer. There are a few however that are frighteningly off base. Cold-calling is the worst way to contact a shop. And don’t confuse persistence with being a telephone harasser. If I tell you not to call back, don’t give my phone number to someone else in your outfit to call me. I’ll report you to the police for harassment. No means no. And don’t you dare try to pry out of whomever answers the phone who the owner is, or the ‘right person’ to talk to. That is simply slimey and I would never do business with a company with these tactics, no matter what your product.

    Here is the only way to cold-call a business:
    Research the business throughly to make sure that the business would even fit with your target audience. A remote chance is not a chance.
    When you phone, the first things out of your mouth
    My name is…
    I am calling from this company…(Your company name)
    I would like to talk to… if they are available…( a buyer or ask whom the person who answers the phone suggests)
    For the purpose of….(state your intentions)
    Once you are speaking to the right person, ask them if they have time to talk with you.
    Tell them about your product in two sentences. Boil it down to the essentials. Basically an ‘elevator speech’
    Ask them point blank, ‘Does this sound like something your customers would buy?’ They know their own customers and what motivates them. If they say no, thank them for their time and say goodbye. If you would call again with a different more appropriate product they are more likely to talk to you.
    If they say yes, ask if you may send them samples.
    Ask how long they would like you to wait before following up about the samples sent.
    Thank them for their time and say goodbye
    Do exactly what you said you would do, follow through
    Retail people are in service positions, they know how professional service people are expected to behave. If you don’t behave correctly they figure your business is a mess and so will your fulfillment of orders.
    Remember that you are serving the people in a service industry. If you are humble, kind and professional they will appreciate it and want to do business.

    1. Heather-

      I think that your reply was my favorite. If the relationship is straight -forward in the beginning – it shows trustworthiness.

  31. I work for a well know manufacturer and retailer. I currently work in eCommerce may be switching to account services for our wholesale department soon (we have relationships with many department stores and boutiques).

    If I am still working for my company, would it be appropriate to reach out to departments regarding my own personal brand/project/product?

  32. Selling a retail store is not an easy task but some really good tips here. Thank you for the post. I loved to read the comments as well.

  33. I appreciate this platform and everyone’s comments very informative! I took notes. Keep inspiring and most of all KEEP GOING!

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