One of the biggest challenges in wholesale is getting an appointment with the buyer from your favorite store. It can take weeks or months to get something on the calendar! When you finally do get that call or email start by giving yourself a pat on the back because you’ve crossed a major threshold by getting an appointment on the books! Are you ready to leave a lasting impression with your buyer? Here are 10 of my top tips for having a successful appointment.
Start with a smile
You may have just rolled your eyes at me a bit but surprisingly, this needs to be addressed! Set the tone for the appointment and show your enthusiasm. Your buyer is giving you time out of their day so show a little love and appreciation with a big ole smile on your face. If it’s a morning meeting try arriving with an extra coffee, tea or croissant, it’s a nice gesture and doesn’t cost too much! (I always fed my buyers, the never seemed to have time to eat!) I’ve sat across from buyers who looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but in my showroom and those were some of the most painful appointments to be in. Smiles are contagious so if you keep a positive attitude chances are even an iffy appointment will turn around!
Know your pricing guidelines
Buyers are expecting you to be the expert so it’s important to be prepared to answer specific questions. Some of the most common questions include details about your MSRP’s (manufacturer suggested retail price) and different markup options (while 50% is standard but some stores prefer 60%+) Do your math ahead of time and know just how low you can go if necessary.
Know your delivery dates.
Another common question you will hear from a buyer is “how soon can I have it” When they are ready to write you want to get that order! It’s so important to know what inventory you have on hand to ship today, vs next week and when your new collections will be available to ship. Know your dates, they are definitely going to ask!
Bring lots of samples!
Nothing beats seeing product in person. Buyers want to touch and feel the items to check out their quality. Many buyers like to lay out your samples and play with assortment options to see what it will look like on their stores floor. You should aim to bring an assortment of prints and styles so they can get a feel for your collections. Don’t feel like you have to bring EVERYTHING, a good linesheet can help your buyer fill in any blanks!
Don’t forget your line sheet or catalog!
So, back to that line sheet. This sales tool is critical to your appointment, if the buyer doesn’t see it chances are they won’t buy it! Many buyers like to circle items and make notes directly on their copy so they have something on hand to reference. Even if they’ve already received a digital copy make sure you have a few copies of the printed version with you. As you work together and they make notes you can copy their notes onto your copy. It’s much faster than scribbling everything in a notebook!
Bring your business card
There have been a few times I’ve met with a new buyer and had to rustle around for a business card (or realized I had forgotten them completely!) It’s a rookie mistake and every time it happened I was SO embarrassed. In our digital age it’s easy to put this sales tool to the back of your mind, especially if you’ve already had contact with them via email. Many buyers still keep a Rolodex so be sure to stock up and have one ready to give your buyer at the end of the appointment!
And an order form
While many buyers have their own way of writing an order you should always be prepared! Throw a few in your bag, if they’re ready to write on the spot you want to get that order-you don’t want to lose your window of opportunity! I know it sounds completely old school, but pen to paper still creates a PO. The easier you make it for a buyer to work with you the easier it will be to get an order.
Dress the part
Business and creative casual are all the rage right now, with many companies allowing their employees to wear jeans. While the fashion and creative industries tend to be more relaxed when it comes to dress code I’d advise you to go the extra mile and dress up for your appointment, especially if it’s the first time meeting your buyer. There are still a lot of traditional buyers and businesses out there that expect professional attire. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a power suit, but maybe opt for a pencil skirt over a pair of ripped denim. Also, keep trends minimal. Those tassel earrings and distressed jeans may be all over instagram, do they really say, “I’m trustworthy buy from me?". With some accounts, it may be totally ok! The key here is to know your audience and dress accordingly. When in doubt, a pair of black pants and blouse will walk the line of fashionable professional.
Get there on time!
You do NOT want to be late to your appointment! While there are unavoidable circumstances (a flat tire, a delayed flight) set yourself up for success and aim to get there a few minutes early. (you can always kill time in the car or at a coffee shop) Who knows what traffic and parking will look like. If something unavoidable does pop up get in touch with your buyer asap and explain the delay and apologize. There is no feeling worse than rushing around, breaking a sweat and walking into your meeting flustered (I’ve been there, done that and I promise you it was NOT cute)
Have a follow-up strategy
It’s so important to remain connected. Sending your buyer a quick note after your appointment never hurts. Consider finding different ways to keep in touch that DO NOT include always talking about your products. By focusing on developing the relationship and not pushing your products will lead to better business partnerships and increased sales. It won’t happen overnight, but investing in people first is one of the best moves I think you can make for your business.