Selling Wholesale: What to say during your Meeting

With the big day around the corner, your anxiety about your meeting may start kicking into overdrive. While you’ve conquered one of the biggest hurdles (getting the appointment!) knowing what to say when you’re actually there and in front of your buyer can be pretty nerve-wracking. Going into your meeting with a plan in place and having a set strategy before you walk through their door is not only going to make you look like you’ve done this thousands of times (even if you haven’t) and is going to take a lot of the stress out of your meeting.

selling wholesale-what to day to your buyer during your meeting

Step 1: Prepare your talking points

Going into your meeting with objectives is the first step but to really maximize the time you have with your buyer. The talking points you prepare in advance should directly relate to the goals/ objectives you previously outlined (and if you missed this post, I suggest checking it out before reading any further!)

Step 2: Thank them for their time

As you’re settling in it’s a good idea to not only show your appreciation for the meeting by thanking them again for their time but also reiterating that you’re not going to take up too much of their time. Busy buyers like to know that your meeting won’t be an all-day affair and your acknowledgment is a nice way to help them focus on your presentation and not wonder how long you’ll divert their time.  Saying “Thanks again for meeting with me today, I promise not to take up too much of your time. I'm really excited to show you the new spring styles!” is a simple and straightforward way to set the tone for your meeting.

Step 3: Start with an icebreaker

As much as you want to dive right into the good stuff, it’s important to set a nice foundation for your interaction. So, in addition to thanking them for their time, you’ll want to make sure to re-introduce yourself (if you’ve never met in person) and open your conversation with a nice icebreaker. Your icebreaker doesn’t need to be crazy or complex. The best meetings I’ve had stemmed from our ability to get personal pretty quickly.

Some of my go to’s meeting openers/icebreakers are:

-Asking a question about their business. It can be specific if there is something you know about (like a recent in-store event or collaboration) or a simple “How’s your February been so far?”

-Asking them about something more personal Thanks again for meeting with me today, I know your days must be pretty full catching up from your New York trip. How was the Stationery show?

-Referencing something from your previous conversation “when we last spoke you mentioned that [insert something related to their business here] how has [insert a follow-up question here]

-Offer them a treat. This tip stems from my NYC showroom days and is something I still gravitate to this day. Whenever we had morning or lunchtime meetings in our showroom we always had something on hand to offer the buyers who came to visit. It gave them a chance to unwind, relax and sometimes, it was the only meal they’d eat all day. It was a small token that was always appreciated. If you’re meeting them in the morning at their store bringing a thoughtful treat (coffee, tea, a croissant etc) is a nice and friendly gesture that won’t break the bank. If you’re not entirely sure what they like you can always ask! Something as simple as “I noticed that you have a great (coffee/pastry) shop around the corner and will probably pop in before our meeting. Do you have a favorite (coffee/pastry)? My treat :)  (make sure you specify the treat part, otherwise your buyer could misinterpret the exchange and feel like they have to give you $ and then things might get weird)

Step 3: Start walking through your talking points that directly relate to your goals and objectives

Now you’ve reached the presentation portion of your conversations! (my FAVORITE part! 🙌🏻🙌🏻) This is where you’re showing them the goods!! (so to speak) Your objectives will determine what you talk about during this portion of your meeting. You may only be focusing on new collections, decide to start with a conversation about what is currently selling (to try for a re-order) Ask them about other products that are selling well (so you can offer a complimenting product from your line) all while presenting your samples along with line sheets.

Having copies of your line sheet are a critical part of the presentation process. While you may have already sent your buyer copies, having a few copies to go along with your samples will make you look like a pro. This added step saves time (they don’t need to find your email and print themselves) and allows your buyer to take notes as you’re reviewing the items. In many instances, my buyers have written the units they want to stock directly on the line sheets instead of an order form. Then, I’d make a copy (or write the units on my line sheet copy) and use this as my point of reference, and write up the order for them. Yes, it may be a few extra steps for me, but it meant getting the order confirmed and placed faster. PLUS, my buyers really appreciated how much easier the process was when they didn’t have to spend extra time writing it up. I’d simply send them a copy for approval via email which they’d have to respond with an “approved” so I had the approval in writing.

Step 3A: Walk them through top sellers

Your key items are the cornerstone products of your business so these are the products that if nothing else, you want your buyer to carry because you know that they are stellar performers at retail. If your buyer isn’t carrying your top styles yet, use your meeting as an opportunity to address this and find out why. When presenting your top sellers, be sure to include important stats + sales figures during your conversation. Telling a buyer you recommend a journal because it has a specific monthly sell-through, you can’t keep them in stock or that you sold out of the last shipment in 2 days is going to carry more weight compared to you simply saying “You need these because they’re awesome”

Step 4: Wrap it up

You’ve just given your buyer a lot to digest so before walking out the door you want to use this opportunity to address any questions or objections. In many cases, your buyer’s questions/objections will happen organically throughout the conversation but in the event, they don’t comment much, you’re going to want to flush out any objections while you are still standing in front of them with samples. A great way to do this is with an open-ended question that also signifies that you’re done with the presentation. Something along the lines of: “So, I know I just shared a lot of information with you. Based on what you said about your customer loving {X,Y,Z) I think the (items 1/2/3) would be a great fit for you. What do you think?

Let them talk and use their answer as your guide for what you say next. If they agree GREAT!! Use this as the starting point to write up your order. If they disagree, reframe their objections as open-ended questions and make other product suggestions. Then, you can continue the dialogue and hopefully find a solution to their needs via your products!

An important note about in-person meetings: sometimes buyers don't have much to say while you're presenting your products-they may sit in silence and simply absorb what you're presenting (in the moment, it can be a bit scary/uncomfortable) In the event this happens it's ok to just keep moving ahead and show the next thing you want to show her, which would be any top sellers/things you think she should have and so forth. When you conclude showing your samples and talking about the items you can say, "so, what do you think about (new styles/skus/collections) Do you think they'd be a good fit for your store? Similar to the above, this will signify that your presentation is complete and you're ready for their feedback. :)