10 things to know when presenting your products to retail buyers.

Retail buyers. They can be the “gate-keeper” to getting your product on the retailer’s shelves. These are the people responsible for purchasing goods for re-sale to the public. A retail buyer takes current inventory, tracks sales trends, supply chains, and customer needs into account when deciding what to buy from suppliers and sell through their company. They may also be responsible for overseeing the company’s receiving department, keeping tabs on inventory, expenditures, and deliveries. Interacting with wholesalers and manufacturers is an important aspect of a retail buyer’s job.

If you are part of a marketing or sales team within a company that sells products to retailers for resale, you understand the importance of forming a good relationship with these buyers.

It can be a challenge securing a meeting with the right buyer at the right retail company. One of the early steps necessary, is to be sure that your product is aligned with the retailer and their consumer that you are targeting.

If you’ve won the opportunity to present your product for the first time, or you are meeting with a buyer with whom you already have an established relationship, consider the following:

10 key considerations for a successful presentation:

1. Know your audience.

– Does this buyer like having a single sales sheet with all the information, or rather a brochure or other materials?
– Or does this particular buyer typically toss things right in the trash?
– Would they prefer an email just prior, or after the meeting that provides a link to download sales materials with all the specs of the product?

2. What is the amount of time arranged for the meeting?

Plan for your presentation to be brief and wrap up in plenty of time for more discussion within the allotted time.

3. Where will your presentation take place?

For example: You may have five people crammed in a tiny cluttered office with the buyer, assistant buyer, and a third-party broker. But those surroundings do not need to a deterrent if you are prepared.

4. Present the right information.

If your product is relatively new, you want all the innovative features and benefits easy to understand in an efficient manner.

5. If you use a sales presentation tool such as PowerPoint. Here are five easy pointers for an effective sales deck:

1. Numbers and statistics related to your product can be tedious and boring. Without glossing over them, find a creative way to present this information.

2. Parsing out the information on multiple slides is much easier to comprehend than a single slide jammed full of charts, graphs, and numbers.

3. Don’t forget to appeal to the buyer’s “right side of the brain”. Include enticing visuals of the product in the sales deck.

4. Animation can be helpful and hold their attention.
5. Enlist your creative department or outside firm to give your presentation the polish it needs to communicate effectively.

6. Get creative.

Sometimes samples of the actual product are required for sampling at these meetings. The logistics for live samples needs to be coordinated with your product development and R&D departments.

When your product is still in development, or packaging is not yet available, it can lead to a lot of speculation. Such as:
– What will the final packaged product will look like?
– How will it be merchandised and displayed in-stores?
– What exactly needs to be communicated on the package?
– What is the hierarchy of this information and how is it displayed on the package?

This is when mock-ups of packaging leaves a strong impression. These can be as simple as only principle display panels on a mounting board, or 3-dimensional packages as they would appear when distributed to the retail shelves.

Whether these are boxes, pouches, bottles, cans, or large cartons, there are services available that can produce impressive and realistic samples.

During the presentation try keeping the mock-ups under wraps until the appropriate time for the big reveal.

7. Team up.

No one expects a sales manager to have all the answers, so consider bringing a member of your creative team with you. Either from your outside creative agency, or a member of your in-house creative team. For instance, with package design this can be helpful when the buyer asks about additional information to be included on the package. Your creative expert gets to hear these concerns directly from the buyer and can address them right then or record accurate notes to take back to the rest of the team.

8. What to bring.

Leaving behind sell sheets that include information about your product is a tangible way to stay top-of-mind with that buyer. Sales sheets should be well designed by your creative expert which can display appetizing photos of the product and packaging.

Retail buyers are inundated with materials and information. So keep your sales sheets simple and concise. The basic information can include:
1. A brief description of the products.
2. Ingredient decks for food or beauty products.
3. Pack-size specs.
4. A UPC for each SKU.

If multiple documents and sales materials are necessary, packaged them up in an allinclusive presentation folder, making it easy for the buyer to maintain all your information in one place for their files.

9. So much info. So little time.

Consider that often times these buyers have little time and little space, so plan and build your sales kit accordingly. If you can’t project your presentation on a screen in a conference room, you might need to improvise with a laptop in their cubicle. Or if a digital presentation isn’t possible you may need to resort to a printed copy of your sales deck. Printed copies are especially handy if unforeseen technical problems arise. But I would caution you to not hand it to others present until after your presentation. This allows you to keep their attention without them flipping pages ahead while you make your presentation.

10. Make a check list. Check it twice.

Here’s a suggested checklist for a retail buyer meeting. This is by no means definitive.
1. Product samples (if required)
2. Printed sales materials:
– Product/capabilities brochure
– Individual product sell sheets
– Presentation folder to hold all the printed materials
3. Packaging Mock-ups (if required)
Note: If cross-country air travel is necessary, flat full-color options of the principle display panels may be more practical than 3-D packaging mock-ups.
4. Laptop computer and portable projector if necessary
5. Printed copies of the sales deck
Much of the above should also be e-mailable as PDFs. Plus, it allows for high quality printouts should you need extras at the last minute.

If you are presenting with a team, be sure to include who is responsible for bringing the various materials needed.

For example…

You may have a presentation scheduled with a buyer at a warehouse club store chain. However, the products to be discussed are still in the ideation phase.

If a sales manager, other than you, is responsible for this customer, preliminary conversations with you and your creative team (in-house, or outside agency) is key in preparation for this meeting with the buyer. Ask the following questions:
1. Based on the type of product, what type of packaging is best? I Such as, is it suited for a pouch, a box, or a bottle? What is the preference for this Club Store?
2. What is the preferred pack size for this Club Store? For example, an 8 oz. pouch, compared to a 2 LB bag, or a 5 LB box, means adapting the packaging design to these various formats. This also affects how the product is merchandized in the store.

How would this product be displayed at this Club Store?
– Do they prefer to use a master case with the product inside, which is seen through the freezer door?
– Do they prefer to place the product in a large bin, also seen through the freezer door?
– Do they prefer to place the product in an open chest freezer?

It’s possible the product could be displayed in all three of the above examples within the same club store chain. It can vary from store to store, and region to region, based on the preference of the local store chain’s management team.

If you have any of this information, you can include that in your strategy. Knowing the merchandizing scenario is important because it can determine if a box, or a pouch, or some other packaging format is best for the product along with optimizing the merchandising preferences of the store. After all, attracting the consumer to purchase the product is the goal for both you, and your customer.

Knowing what is unique about this particular Club Store compared to other retail chains, is very helpful. Perhaps it is perceived as having higher quality products than competing Club Warehouses. Or that it is exclusive to a particular religion in the country. Consider the consumers in those regions, their attitudes and preferences, compared to the consumer in other parts of the country. If, for example, this product was Lobster Tails, a consumer in the North East would be more discerning about how the package presents the product. In other words, in the graphic design of the packaging, certain information may need to be highlighted. Where in other regions of the country, that same information would not need to be highlighted.

Try to understand what is unique about the consumers who purchase from this Club Store?

Based on the region, is their primary shopper female? How often do their consumers shop at this Club Store? What is the typical age range?

Consumers who go to a club store are typically price conscious, at the same time, they may be particular about quality and healthy choices.

Again, knowing your audience is key.

Obtaining as much of this demographic data as the buyer at the Club Store can provide, is critical for your team to make informed decisions related to packaging design, format, and how a family of products may work together on display. And by having these conversations early in the process, the sales manager can gather any pertinent information from the customer in advance.

It is important to note that the synergy between the sales, marketing, product development, and creative teams can contribute to a lasting and profitable relationship with your customers.

Is it worth the extra effort?

The results of this meeting can influence the acceptance of a new product line or a line extension to your current products the club store is already carrying. As well as a very efficient decisionmaking process because your samples, sales materials, and packaging mock-ups leave little to the imagination. This eliminates a lot of unnecessary back and forth communication.

Contributing to the success of the meeting is not just reliant on what you bring into the meeting, but what you leave behind. Having well-produced sales materials and packaging mock-ups are important but leaving them with a comfort level of trust is most valuable. Trust that you can deliver based on an understanding of their organization, branding, and product needs.

If you have more questions about creating your point of sale materials, we’d love to start a conversation with you. Contact us at: 310-489-8446, info@launch17.com