From a buyers point of view


Think about it. Most people don't like taking risks. Neither do buyers. Put yourself in their position. You are judged by the sales of your department. You might be rewarded by a big increase, but it is far worse when you have to liquidate inventory. So do you take a risk on a new product or use old reliable. Old reliable consistently makes their numbers, they have an existing relationship with the buyer and it is just plain easier and less work for the buyer. On the other hand, your product promises what? Do you have advertising behind it? Are you willing to place it in the store on a guaranteed sale? Worst of all, if your product is a huge hit, are you going to be able to meet the demand. How do you feel when you travel to the store only to find they are out of an item?

Always go into the meeting with all the answers to these questions in mind. Why should the buyer take a risk on your item? Be prepared to address objections even if they are not immediately brought up. The buyer wants to have success stories but with as little risk as possible.




Yes, No or Maybe?


Throughout my career I have worked with so many sales people.  I have had numerous sales people call on me.  I receive calls daily from sales people trying to sell me something. Here’s my take on selling.  There are only three responses.  Yes, No and Maybe.  The first… “Yes” is terrific because you got the order!  The second, “No” leaves you with two options.  The first is to explore the objections and see if they can be overcome so you ultimately get the order.  The second is to understand you can’t get everything, learn from the experience and move on to the next customer.  Better that you bring closure and move on.  The worst option is “Maybe”  as it leaves you with nothing.  You haven’t received the order and you don’t move on.  You’re in limbo.  I can’t tell you how many salespeople are satisfied with a maybe, thinking somehow it is better than a no.  How do you respond to a maybe?  You can’t thank them for the order and you can’t ask them why they are not interested.  The secret is to press.  Not so much as to annoy your customer but really understand why they said maybe.  Do they actually have no interest or is there another reason you need to address.  A good salesperson is persistent.  I use the example of my kids.  When they want something, they are relentless.  While a “maybe” might pacify them for a short time, they learn early that “maybe” is not a real answer.  They never give up because they know the worst outcome for them is “no.”  And even when given a no, they continue to ask why until they finally realize it’s time to move on.  So I suggest, be like you were when you were young and DON’T GIVE UP until you recognize it is over and then move on to the next customer!


Who should you talk to about your idea?


It is a common misconception that when you have an idea that you must keep it “secret” or someone will steal it. Remember this, if product/idea development were that easy, everyone would do it.  It is not about the person who comes up with the idea but rather the ones who execute successfully.  Talking about your idea allows you to refine it, make it something that people will actually pay for.  When you are discussing your ideas, you don’t want a “yes” person who says how great it is and how “rich” you are going to be.  It is the person that brings up objections and reasons why the idea won’t work that will help you most.  Don’t argue with them - listen.  If they have these objections, others along the process will too.  You need to be able to address these objections in a positive way.  Our company is presented with ideas almost every day.  The most common mistake the inventor will make is to begin by saying that there idea is great for everyone.  Even water, when marketed as a product is not for everyone.  Do you purchase “high-end” expensive bottled water or do you drink tap water?  The point is - talk to as many people outside your group of close friends who will provide you with honest feedback.  Listen openly to their comments.  Just because one person doesn’t like your idea, doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for another.  Talking about the idea and listening to responses provides you the information to focus in on where and how you are going to eventually sell the idea.  Nothing is for everybody.


Who is the customer?


Your idea is complete. You are feeling very confident because a store gave you a purchase order. You think this isn't all that hard. Most people stop there, thinking the person who wrote the PO is the customer. The secret to a successful product is getting it sold the end customer. That first order doesn't make a business. It is the repeat orders that will make your idea flourish.

The store is simply providing a showcase where potential customers have the opportunity to notice your product. A good entrepreneur will take on the obligation of making sure their item is noticed and understood. The better you are at that, the more you will ultimately sell.


Use your time, not your money!


We all have ideas all the time. Some may be good and some not. I wake up at night thinking I have the greatest idea ever. By morning, I can't believe I stayed up thinking about it! Is your idea that good? Spend the time doing the research to find out before you spend the money! While you might start with asking your friends and family, don't count on their advice. They don't want to hurt your feelings. They will tell you how great it is and how rich you are going to be.

I was presented with an idea just yesterday. The idea itself came from this inventor's need for the product. By the time he sent it to me, he had already spent the money on single cavity production molds and had applied for a patent. Without going into whether or not the product has potential, I was more concerned with the order in which this inventor proceeded with his idea. I cannot speak for him however it appeared, he had an idea, found an injection molding company, applied for a patent and is now sitting back waiting for the checks to come in. While it did appear to solve one problem, it created two new ones in the process. In his case, if he had produced individual samples before creating a mold, the problems would have been seen and lots of money would have been saved.


To sell or not to sell


An article in the newspaper talked about the inventor of a famous candy. Early on in his career, he sold his idea and brand name to a larger company that went on to make multiple millions with it. Years have passed and while he accepted a very handsome sum for his invention, he was looking back and angry that he had sold. It is always easy to think what might have been but here is a reality check.

We all dream our idea is going to be huge. Fact is, most ideas get nowhere. If yours is good enough that a company wants to purchase it, you should give that serious consideration. Does the company have the ability and true desire to effectively produce, sell, market and service your idea? If the answer is yes, all that remains is the negotiation. 1% of something is better than 100% of nothing!

Make a decision, do your research, stay calm, be smart and don't look back second guessing what might have been.


Don't Short-Change the Retailer!


I often get asked how much margin does a retailer generally want? Stop! While there are general formulas, if you were the retailer, how much would you want? As much as you can get! In reality, margin is just a factor on what the market will bear. (The automobile business is the perfect example of this) There is only a finite amount of selling space and therefore the end goal is to make as much as possible per square foot. If choosing between two products that are equal sellers, the one that nets more income is going to be the one selected to keep. Make sure yours is the one that the retailer makes the most money with!

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