As a designer, when it comes to expressing your passion through garments, you want boutique buyers to fall in love with your collection and write an order immediately. However, the reality is that tracking a buyer down can be very challenging. Once you finally do, many will tell you to “send me a line sheet”. With an optimistic mindset and a half-broken heart, you send a line sheet hoping they will agree to meet with you.
At times we forget that sales are very much like plants. In order to open and grow an account, we must first prepare the soil, then plant our seeds, continue to water, and finally nurture.
Similarly, designers should prepare their soil by researching the desired store, the buyer, and other brands carried. Once complete, the seeds are ready to be planted by visiting the store. Nonetheless, like a gardener, we must have the right tools in our sales kit to help dig up useful information in order to present a relevant lineup from our collection.
Sales. This simple yet basic word holds so much power. If you think about it, sales are one of the key elements that makes the world go round and grow.
Number One: Approaching a Retail Buyer
Having a positive mindset when approaching a buyer can take you very far in the selling process. When speaking with the decision maker for the first time it’s important to not to sell on your first visit. This is the perfect time to have a casual conversation in order to collect information about the buyer, store, and end consumer.
Since buyers are bombarded daily with emails, drop-ins, and phone calls from reps; it’s important when approaching them to have the following ready:
- Your Brand Story – a brief description of your brand and how it relates to their boutique.
- Value Proposition – a synopsis on how your brand will contribute to improving their store sales.
- Press or Collaborations – Relevant editorial on your latest collection or collaboration project.
By being prepared and ensuring the basic tools are in your toolkit, you will demonstrate your interest in contributing to the store’s success.
Now, if the buyer still appears to be on the fence about bringing in the brand after speaking with you a few times, then it’s time to take your approach a step further by utilizing the information you collected during your initial call and implement the drip method.
The drip method is simply reminding the buyer in a subtle way that you are on trend and can take their store to the next level by purchasing your brand.
An example of the drip method is as followed:
- After meeting with a buyer you should immediately email a custom line sheet.
- A week later send one piece of relevant press.
- Two weeks later email any new information about your company.
By doing this, your brand will continue to be front and center on the buyer’s mind.
Number Two: Perfecting the Prospecting Processing
Prospecting is the art of beginning new business relationships that later turn into sales. The first step to improving your prospecting skills is noticing its importance in your sales results, and then treating it accordingly.
To really sharpen your prospecting results, take action by blocking out time and dedicating energy to look for potential accounts every single day (for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour).
To prospect well, try using the list of methods below:
How to Gain New Accounts
- An Account List – This list should be laser focused, workable, and accessible.
- A Plan – An effective plan can be created and achieved by consistently blocking out time during the day for prospecting.
- An Attack – This can happen through face-to-face, phone, email, and the drip method.
- Meeting – It’s common to have more than one meeting before you close.
- Close/Follow Up – This stage is where you reap what you sow. After an order has shipped do not to leave your new account hanging. Contact the buyer at least 3-4 weeks after his/her first buy; as it shows that you care.
Once your prospecting foundation is established, write a script and role-play with someone you are comfortable with to help better prepare yourself when calling on a potential account.
Step Three: The Art of Following Up
Following up with a prospect is one of the most important things you can do in sales. On average 43% of people give up after their first “no” from a buyer.
Contacting a potential buyer right after a meeting isn’t always about making a sale, rather it’s about the possibility of building a new relationship and letting the sale happen organically.
The best way to follow up if you meet the buyer in person is by phone or email. Email should be a short note complimenting them on something you liked about their boutique, or a quick thank you and a brief synopsis on how your product can help their store make money.
Remember, like a plant you must water your seeds and eventually they will begin to grow.
According to the Association of Professional Salesmen and the National Sales Executive Association, a majority of sales are made from the 5th through the 12th contact! Resilience is key.
- 2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
- 3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
- 5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
- 10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
- 80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact
By implementing these three must do things to get your brand into retail stores, you eventually will begin to start a new working partnership that will transform both partner’s businesses.