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Selling to your first big retailer or distributor is not the game-winning touchdown you might think

Selling to your first big retailer or distributor is not the game-winning touchdown you might think

Again and again we talk with entrepreneurs that are overly excited at landing their first big retail or distributor sale. They’ve struggled and worked for so long, they feel this is their magic moment, the tipping point - they’ve made it. We always feel bad when we have to talk them down.

You didn’t win the game - you only received the kick-off

Landing your first big order from a retailer or distributor can feel terrific. It’s what you’ve been working for, and it rewards all your hard work. But it’s not the game-winning touchdown most think it is. Instead it’s more equivalent to receiving the game’s first kick-off on your own twenty-yard line. You’ve got a lot of field ahead of you and the game is far from won.

Remember, the competition is still trying to tackle you and there’s always a chance you’ll fumble. Earning your first big opportunity is just the start of the process. The reality is if your products don’t sell then a second re-order is highly unlikely. So to win the game you have to keep playing and make sure you continue to gain ground… and customers.

Work your game plan, win one game at a time, and make it to the playoffs

The initial order is seldom the end of the opportunity. Retailers and distributors will likely have additional promotional opportunities. Distributors often have catalogs they distribute to their customers. Take out an ad or inquire about including a promotional insert along with it. You need to get their customers (the retailers) to buy your product from the distributor. Participate in online promotions or email blasts too. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that shipping your product to their warehouse is the end of things.

With retailers, take advantage of their promotional options: In-store demonstrations or signage; Inclusion in their emails or sale flyers; And don’t forget seasonal activities such as Black Friday Sales, etc. Again, the goal is to keep your product selling so they keep reordering.

Don’t forget to tell people you’re in the game too

One of the “trick plays” we’ll run for clients that have received opening orders from retailers is to target store locations with online and offline advertising. Yes, we participate in the retailers promotions too - but if budget permits we’ll also run localized Adwords campaigns and sometimes local advertising in regional publications - directing customers to their stores. We want to help ensure the products sell, so we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.

Plan for a winning season and aim to be a champion

Don’t fool yourself into thinking one game or one good play translates into winning it all. You have to keep working hard. A win one week means you immediately have to start planning for the game next week. Yes, victory can be yours but it’s never as easy or injury free as it appears. Keep playing hard even after your first big order, or you’ll end up on the sidelines dreaming of what could have been.

Oct 10, 2014
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