Gaining The Attention Of Wholesalers

Sales reps can be tricky!  And the good ones are almost always busy… but never too busy for the  right retailer. Yep, the “right” retailer. Is that you? Of course it is. Now you just need to convince them of this…. Bet you didn’t know this was part of the “retail game” when you decided to open your store?!

Some reps may be ignoring you because they have product in nearby stores. Others may simply be too busy to return phone calls… even if this only hurts them. Whatever the reason is, try following these suggestions to help gain the attention you deserve.  

  1. Kill them with kindness, always. Not the fake kind but genuine “you really care about their brands and the success they will have in your store ” kindness.
  2. Forget the old fashion emails and phone calls. Go for bold statements. Once you have determined phone calls and emails aren’t being returned, put a packet together that highlights your store, recent sales success in your store (including specific sales to certain brands) and other key details that showcase how great you are. This may include press you have received, customer testimonials and even direct comparisons to your competition (if that may be what is standing in your way). Hell, even send chocolates.
  3. Give a proposal as to an introductory order that you would place. Identify sales goals that YOU would have to meet so they know your commitment to their brand and their success with your store. Outline this in a clear, organized fashion so it’s quick and easy to read / understand.
  4. Send all details in a neatly packaged presentation that will gain their attention.Use color while still remaining professional. Send this to their immediate attention and have it signed for so you know it was received. Follow up with an email first, then a phone call after. Give them 3 or 4 days to reach out to you first, though, from the time the package has been received. Afterall, they genuinely are busy people!
  5. The goal is not to get the sale written right away but to gain their respect.Once you have that and can prove to them you deserve their product in your store (this is necessary so consider this, as well ) then the sales will follow. If they have contracts with other retailers that prohibit immediate competiton, ask them when their contracts / deals expire and if you will then be a candidate. Be direct but always polite so you know what challenges you are up against.

Finally, expect the same respect you are giving them in return. If they understand your dedication, it’s likely they will consider you as a retailer for their product / brands. The timeline may not be ideal based on existing retail relationships, but put yourself in line so that you are at the head of the waiting list.


  • Lara Joy Brynildssen
    October 18, 2010

    As a sales rep, I consider good retailing a 3-way partnership between the retailer, the rep and the vendor. Part of being a good sales person is managing your time, your account list and the needs of prospective accounts, too. I really, really value my accounts that return my phone calls and emails as promptly (and honestly) as I return theirs.

    Chocolates are always welcome, but not necessary 🙂

  • Simone
    October 18, 2010

    At this day and age, in this economy, are there reps out there ignoring retailers? If so, that’s attitude, and no amount of chocolate can fix it!

    The retailer is the rep’s customer. If being professional and respectful doesn’t get the rep’s attention, contact the manufacturer directly. Most will gladly take your order. If they refer you to the area rep, you can do them a favor and let them know the rep is not doing their job.

    And if neither wants to sell to you, move one. Not having the “coolest” product in your store is not going to break you. As Heidi Klum says, “In fashion, one day you are in, the next day you are out”.

  • Ashlyn Kelly
    October 19, 2010

    All great points – from Retail Minded and Lara and Simone. Thanks.

  • Lisa LeBlanc
    October 19, 2010

    This is why I loathe dealing with reps…if I don’t get a response in a timely fashion, I go straight to the manufacturer. Every time they are more than willing to take my order, cutting out the rep that was too busy.

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