OTS 129 | Buyer Relationship

Creating a positive relationship with your buyer is key to having a productive partnership. John from San Francisco wanted to know how this could be achieved, and I thought that this is something worth discussing for all our listeners out there. You have to build a mutually beneficial relationship with your client by creating a positive dialogue built on trust and professionalism, which will increase the chances of fostering customer loyalty. Learn the 4 primary steps to building a good relationship with your buyer that will make them repeat clients despite the tough competition in your field.

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Tips for Building a Successful Relationship with Your Buyer

I am in a hotel for a line review in a different state and I found myself with a bit of extra time. I also wanted to make an announcement. I’m super excited to let you guys know that the On The Shelf website is up and you can go there. It’s still in a little bit of progress because we’re still getting our blogs put together. It takes a long time to translate 127 podcasts into blog posts. We’re working from the newest ones down to the oldest ones, but still you can go to the website. It’s OnTheShelfNow.com. Check that out and see some of the latest blogs.

You can even make comments and it’s going to turn into a great resource for all the Big Boxers out there wanting to get a little bit more information. There’s a section that’s going to be for what’s coming up. Right now, there’s nothing there but you will eventually be able to go there and see guests that are going to be on the show, when those are going to air and all the great cool things that will be coming up. Please take a moment, go to OnTheShelfNow.com and let us hear from you. One of the great things that you can do is you can let us know that you made it. There is a ‘make a comment’ on one of the couple blogs that are up so far. Goodbye Toys R Us! blog is up, you can make a comment on that. Our last Flash Topic blog is also up, so you can make a comment there as well. Happy to finally announce that. It’s been a long time coming and we’re super excited about it. Hopefully you can take a little bit out of your day in the next couple of days to go and check that out and it won’t take you very long at all. I got over the weekend,

I received an email from a gentleman, his name is John. He asked what I thought was a good question. It wasn’t related to how do I get to a buyer, how do I talk to a buyer, what should I say to a buyer? His question was more related to how do I build a successful relationship with a buyer? It struck me that I don’t know that I’ve ever been asked that question before. I don’t know that anybody’s ever posed it that way. We’re always interested in getting to the buyer and getting the buyer to do this or do that or look at this or look at that. That we never stopped to think about how can I actually create a relationship with that buyer that’s going to be beneficial for both of us? That we can both get what we want and we can both move forward in achieving our goals. I put together four things that I thought were probably the four key part to building a successful relationship with a buyer. I wanted to share those with you so you can tuck them away. When you start communicating with a buyer, hopefully these four things will pop up in your memory. You’ll be able to utilize them to create a better dialogue and a better relationship with whatever buyer you’re dealing with, working with or partnering with.

Number one tip for building successful relationships with buyers would be to understand the retailer and what the buyer is trying to accomplish. If you think back to any buyer communications that you’ve had or any time you’ve been in a box with a buyer, a lot of that is us trying to flow as much information to the buyer as we can before the buyer shuts the meeting down. A lot of times we spend time, “These are the features. This is my product. This is what we’re doing. This is the pricing. This is how it’s selling.”It’s all informative about the product and what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s all me. This is what I’m trying to do and hopefully some of it will resonate with you.

OTS 129 | Buyer Relationship
Buyer Relationship: Understand the retailer and what the buyer is trying to accomplish in their specific category.

Without understanding what the buyer is trying to accomplish, understanding what’s on their plate, what are their bosses wanting them to do, what is going to help them achieve their goals? If we don’t know that then a lot of what we’re telling the buyer is falling on deaf ears. It’s passing right by them because they’re trying to filter everything through, “Is this going to help me achieve what I’m trying to achieve? Is this going to help me get to where I need to get to so that I can someday be promoted so that I can make a bonus so that my section of the store stands out and is doing well?”

Even today, the first thing at our line review, the first thing that came out of the mouth of the first person who spoke was for us to say, “Before we start, what are your goals this coming year? What are you trying to accomplish?” I will tell you that the buyer spent a good fifteen minutes letting us know what they’re looking for, what they’re trying to do. It gave us a good frame of reference so that everything that we talked about going forward, we could link back to something that she was trying to accomplish. It made it so much more purposeful. It made it so much more intriguing for the buyer because the things that she’s trying to achieve are being accomplished with what we’re trying to say.

We weren’t just spouting out a bunch of features, benefits and this and that about our product and just try to shove a bunch of stuff down her throat. We were thoughtfully giving her information that linked up to the goals that she’s trying to accomplish. That makes a big difference. Number one is understand the retailer and what the buyer is trying to accomplish in their specific category. Make sure that the stuff that you tell them links up with what they’re trying to accomplish. If what you’re selling them has nothing to do with what they’re trying to accomplish, there’s going to be an impasse and you’re most likely not going to get your product in.

Number two, be prepared. Your preparation level, guys and girls, for any buyer meeting, phone call or webinar will provide the buyer an indication of what it’s like to work with you. If you’re unprepared, if you’re fumbling around, if you don’t have your documents ready, if you don’t know your pricing, if you don’t know your competition, if you don’t know if you’re struggling on any one of those points, the buyer is going to take that into their overall consideration on, “Is this somebody that I can count on? If I need something quickly, am I going to be able to get it? Are they going to have stats out there ready? If I need additional information, if I need them to fill out paperwork,” all those things are going to get wrapped into this unpreparedness that you’ve shown the buyer. That’s going to be a factor into whether or not they want to do business with you.

Conversely, if you are prepared, if you do have the answers, if you do know what’s going on, to give you a good example, we were presenting a product and the buyer let us know that one of our competitors just launched a product that’s very similar. We already knew that, and we already knew that we bought one and compared it to our own product. We were already ready to say, “Yes, they did. You’re exactly right and we’ve already tested that against our product and here are the main differences.” She was looking at us like, “That’s awesome.”When you’re able to let them know something quickly, efficiently, you’ve been prepared, you’ve done the homework, you know as much as they do, you’re in the know on your category and what’s coming out and what’s happening. It makes all the difference in how they view you as a salesperson, as a company representative and as a future partner. Number two tip for building successful relationships with buyers, be prepared.

Number three is know your category. A lot of times, buyers wear a lot of hats and they might not be as up to speed in their overall category as you should be. This is your livelihood. This is what you do for a living. You need to be the expert. You can stop some of the things coming from the buyer by saying, “Yes, now we already know that there are some products that were released by this person, and this is how we stack up to that.” Sometimes you can preempt what they might be telling you when you show them a product. Buyers love to say, when you show them a product, “Yes, so and so just released something like that,” but if you say it first, “We know that these products have just hit the market and this is how we’re stacking up to them, this is what makes us different.” You’re the expert; you’re the one in the know. They expect you to be the expert. When you’re not, it’s a letdown. That shouldn’t be a big surprise to you. It’s your category. This is your product, these are your competitors. You should be the expert. You should be the one that knows everything there is to know about that category. We’ve hammered on that quite enough.

Number four, and our final tip for building a successful relationship with a buyer is honesty is the best policy. I know this sounds somewhat cliché but I’m going to give you a couple examples in here of what I’m talking about and why I say honesty is the best policy. You never know what you’re going to get asked in a buyer meeting. You never know what you’re going to get asked on a phone call. You could be caught off guard. There could be some random question that a buyer asks you that you’ve never had to answer before and you just don’t know.

At this moment, don’t make it up. Don’t guess at it. Don’t try to massage it. This is your opportunity to say, “I don’t have the answer for that particular question, but I will be back to you in 24 hours and let you know.” You have to get back to them in 24 hours and let them know. You can’t let that timeframe fall by the wayside. If you still don’t have the answer in 24 hours, then you at least have to send them an email saying, “I know I said I’d follow up in 24 hours on the answer to this question. Still doing a bit of research. I will get back to you shortly.” Do not fake it. If they ask you to do something you simply can’t do.

For instance, if they ask you to deliver something in a timeframe that you just can’t get it done. Maybe they’re excited about your product and they wanted to get into this one planogram, and that’s only 30 days away. They say, “Can you deliver in 30 days?” You might be pumped up that they’re pumped up about your product.“Whatever, we could do whatever. We’ll make that happen.” Do not make promises that you can’t keep. That will get you in more trouble than anything else. Don’t hang the buyer out to dry that way. If you can’t do it, say, “Listen, I’m super flattered and excited that you liked the product. However, I really need 60 days to produce the product and get it delivered to you. I’m not going to be able to hit that 30 days. I’m sorry.”

The buyer might be disappointed they and even things may change. Maybe they’re going to have to wait until they reset the planogram and that six months from now and how disappointing is that. However, it’s not nearly as disappointing as line, talking about something that you don’t know about or making guarantees that you can’t keep and then you hang the buyer out to dry. They’re waiting for your product and you finally have to call and tell them it’s not going to be there. You’re not going to come back from that, period. I know that you guys have heard me talk about BJ’s Wholesale. I had a client that was not honest about their ability to deliver on a certain timeframe and didn’t say anything about it until the product was already on the water. It was going to be more than two weeks late for a holiday set.

I know that I’ve talked about the fact that that entire half a million-dollar order was cancelled by that retailer. They had every right to do so. I’ve always seen retailers generally try to work it out because they’re planning for their product. They want that product at this point it wasn’t going to work. This is holiday. It has to get there for the holiday set. This client was left holding the bag on a half a million dollars’ worth of product with no place for it to go. You cannot not tell the truth there. These are big companies. They don’t turn on a dime. They’re not nimble. They’re turning like the Titanic and you can’t spring on them at the last minute that a product is going to be two weeks late, especially something that you’ve known about for weeks.

OTS 129 | Buyer Relationship
Buyer Relationship: Do not make promises that you can’t keep. That will get you in more trouble than anything else.

Had they said something early on, maybe something could have been done. If I’m not hammering this home enough, know your capabilities, know what you’re able to accomplish, and if you can’t do it, say so. The buyer will respect you. If you lose out on that particular opportunity, the buyer will most likely let you in on the next opportunity because you told them the truth. If you don’t tell them the truth, you don’t come through, they have egg on their face and they have empty shelves in their stores, you’re not coming back from that. That’s the bottom line. I hope that I’ve made that abundantly clear at this point that you’re not going to come back from that. Four tips that you can put into practice on building successful buyer relationships. Number one, understand the retailer and what the buyer is trying to accomplish in their category. Number two, be prepared. Number three, know your category and number four, honesty’s the best policy. Always be upfront and honest with the buyer on your capabilities and what you’re able to do.

Thanks John so much for submitting that and I wanted to get it out to you because I thought it was pertinent and we never answered that before. Building relationships is key with everything that you do. You can extrapolate these four things into any business relationship that you have. You should always be prepared. You should always know what you’re talking about. You should always be honest and you should always have what the person you’re speaking to, what are their goals? You should always know what their goals so that you can align with them and better partner.

OnTheShelfNow.com, our new podcast website. It’s still in the finishing up stages. It’s going to be a work in progress for a while, but I want you guys to go there and check it out. Some new social media accounts are going to be coming your way. We’re going to be having a new Facebook account for the podcast, a new Twitter account, and a new Instagram account that are going to be directly just for On The Shelf. Those are going to be coming soon. I’ll let you know when those are ready for you guys to go in there and click the button follow. Can’t wait to see what we’re going to talk about next. Until then, look forward to seeing your guys’ products on the shelf.

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