One of the top questions I’m often asked by clients and participants in my Get Wholesale Ready workshop is ‘How do I find the right contact for my products?’ There’s a big misconception that it’s a difficult process, but I’m here to tell you that it really doesn’t have to be. In this post, I’ll share some tips on finding the right contact for your products and many are easier than you thought.
Corporate Head Office
A simple Google search will give you the store or retailer’s head office information, including their phone number. To find the right contact, simply call the head office number and ask for the ‘category manager/buyer’ responsible for ___ (insert the category your products belongs to). There might be a chance that they transfer you to the wrong contact; however, that person should be able to forward and direct you to the appropriate person.
Now, not all companies do this, but a majority of them do. So grab a phone and make that call!
Many companies have a section on their website where you can submit your products for consideration. I see this mainly with large retail chains, in the corporate information section of their website.
Do some digging around in your ideal retailer’s website and see if they have this section on their website and submit your products for consideration.
Although this option can be pricey, tradeshows are a great way to get in front of decision makers. Many store owners, buyers and category managers take time out to visit shows for the sole purpose of seeing new items they can introduce in their stores. They are focused on procurement, thus an opportunity to grab their attention
If possible, ask for a list of attendees for the events so you know if your target store’s representative will be there. This way you can better determine if it’s worth the cost for you.
As well, some shows are geared toward specific categories (toys, gifts, beauty etc.), so this can be a great place to see new innovation in your industry.
You may have an easier time getting in front of stores by partnering with a broker or distributor. The great thing about this is that many brokers already have products they represent within the stores you want to be in. They may already have standing appointments with decision makers and Category teams. They can easily introduce your products to stores during their meetings, which could be much easier than you trying to get in for an appointment. This is especially the case for bigger stores that don’t always have time to meet with new small businesses.
Going directly to stores is another great option. There are some stores that record requests made by customers and this information is then reported to head office and sent off to the appropriate category team. If you have loyal followers of your products, encourage them to go to their favourite stores and ask them to carry your brand of products. This is a great way for stores and category teams to know that there is already a demand for your products.
For smaller boutique stores, bring in your products, along with your presentation forms/sell sheets and present your products in person.
LinkedIn is a hidden gem to find the right contact for your products. A simple search will lead you to know who the contact is for your products and services. In my previous role as Sr. Category Manager, the categories I was responsible for were highlighted in my profile. I know a lot of pitches that were sent to me were based on people finding my contact information through LinkedIn. They were able to figure out my email and if it happened to be the wrong desk, then I simply passed it on to the right contact. This is an easy, but often missed way to get in front of Buyers/Category Managers of your products.
Hubba is a new platform that’s making it easy for stores to find their newest items without having to travel and go to trade shows. “ Their network connects brands, buyers and influencers through machine learning and personal curation as well as providing tools for retail buyers that suggest new products to carry and allows them to search and discover brands within a set of search criteria.”
I’ll be sharing more content on a later post. This platform definitely deserves its own post, so be on the lookout for it.
So there you have it. I welcome you to go through the list provided and look at your time and budget and start to take action to get in front of decision makers that can really help you expand your reach in a big way. Try more than one of the methods presented; ideally you would try them all and see which one works best for you and gets you a step in the door.
Remember to consistently follow-up. People are busy, and this is especially true for store owners and category teams. They have so much to do on a daily basis, and sometimes looking for new item selections is not their top priority. So it is up to you to continually follow-up with them, because you never know when they will be on the look out for that great product that only you can offer them.
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