In today’s fast-paced, online-focused culture, critical selling skills are being forgotten. These skills make the difference between success and failure. If you want to be a successful sales agent to retail chains you MUST do this first step.
Visit stores, lots of them.
Visit the stores you want to be future clients. Not just the large chains everyone is familiar with, but mid-sized chains and single owner stores. You can’t build a long-term relationship with a client if you don’t take the time know both the store and the buyer(s).
To quote Miles Beckler, "you want your clients to know, like and trust you". Too often sales reps are too focused on making their numbers or grabbing as many clients as possible to make commissions as quickly as possible.
These sales reps soon get overloaded with the hustle; they forget to focus on their clients and lose them just as quickly as they got them. Take a step back. How can a buyer “know, like and trust you” if you never step foot in their stores or know anything about their goals?
Often heard objections to doing in store research:
- I have too many small store clients to meet them all.
- My days are too filled with calls and paperwork to have time to drive all over the country.
- Buyers change so fast; why bother with the small details?
- Stores change product so fast I can’t keep up.
- I can see everything I need online.
Objections to meeting with buyers or store owners:
- I only see them at trade shows. That is enough.
- No time – the same objection used for why you don’t visit their store.
- I am not spending money to meet them if I am not guaranteed an order.
If you let any of those objections stop you from of doing the legwork and researching both the stores and the people associated with those stores you will not succeed as a sales rep.
How to be a good sales rep? Do what others are unwilling to do
Use the objectives listed above as your sales motivation and get out there and “do it”. You will stand out by doing more.
Retail buyers are people too
Buyers will recognize your strong understanding of their stores and the products they stock. This is even more true if you reference product lines or trends from past visits, not just what is on the floor the day you visited. As a result, buyers will be more inclined to listen to suggestions made about current product lines that will work with existing lines.
Visiting stores, both large and small
If your weekdays are full, find time on the weekends to visit a current client and one potential client.
Large retailers tend to place large orders but developing a relationship with them takes the longest and there is often a long lead time for orders. While you are working on these accounts visit and understand mid-tier and even small shops. These buyers and owners will often be able to make a much faster decision on a product line and may be the first to identify new popular trends. Their stores will reflect this.
What happens when you help a build a smaller client into a successful company? That client will remember you in the future. Their primary spend will be directed towards the sales agent that took time to understand their business and made successful recommendations.
Online research can miss a customer’s passion
I love the internet and there are many successful online only businesses. However, as a sales rep you will miss the “buyer’s passion” if you only do your research online.
Recently I was in a client’s store looking at the last two items left of a product line I had recommended. I was holding the products and checking the quality when another customer asked me if I was going to buy them. She “had set them down for a minute and was coming back to get them”. She basically tore them out of my hands and headed for the cash register.
That passion towards a product line would not have occurred if I had only done online research. When the buyer and I confirmed with the sales numbers related to that line we planned out the next season of products to put on the floor.
The first step is always the hardest but will be the most beneficial
Once you have taken this first step and embraced the research phase of how to be a good sales rep never let it go. Make it a part of your regular routine. You will be well ahead of most salespeople - those who are failing at being exceptional.