OTS 152 | Building A Buyer Deck


One of the most important things that will help get your products into a major big-box retailer is a good presentation otherwise known as the buyer deck. In this episode, Timothy Bush takes on the topic of building a buyer deck that retailers can leaf through to learn about your company and product. He gets down into the things you can put in it, as well as talks about building the line sheets and spec sheets. Don’t miss out on learning about buyer decks as you enter into a partnership with your retailers.

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Buyer Decks, Line Sheets And Spec Sheets! What You Need To Know!

I hope you’re having a great day. No matter what day it is when you’re reading this, I hope that you’re either having a great business day or enjoying a wonderful personal day. I cannot believe that in 151 episodes, we have not talked extensively or in-depth about buyer decks. How to build a buyer deck? What to put into a buyer deck? What is a buyer deck? I went back through some episodes and sure enough, there was nothing significant that talked much about it. Although we did an episode on your first email to a buyer, what are you going to attach to that email? It’s an epic fail. We’re going to rectify that. We’re going to right that wrong and talk about buyer decks. First of all, you may be wondering if you’re new on this show or if you’re new to trying to get your products into retail. You may be asking what a buyer deck is? It’s just a presentation. Why not call it a presentation? I don’t know.

Buyer Deck Length

We call it a deck. It’s a deck that we give to buyers. They leaf through it to learn about our company and our product. If you want to stick with a buyer presentation or a presentation for the buyer, feel free. Nobody is not going to know what you’re talking about. There are a couple of different things that you can send to a buyer that’s going to help them understand your product. One is a spec sheet, a wholesale line sheet and one is the buyer deck, which is what we’re going to start with. I think the biggest mistake that most suppliers make when preparing a buyer deck is the length. They want to slam everything that they can into this deck. They want to give them their shoe size. Every time they look at it, they’re like, “We forgot this, we forgot that.” I have to tell you that buyer decks longer than about seven pages are going to get tossed.

“Do you mean do buyers just hit delete?” Yes, they do. They do not want to read through nor do they have the time to read through, nor do they need to know all the information in a 40-page buyer deck. As much as you want to feed them all this information, they don’t need to know all that stuff just yet. Here’s a key thing for you to keep in your mind. Don’t think that your buyer deck is going to do the selling for you. Don’t think that all you have to do is send them this 40-page deck on your product, your product line, your company and they’re going to hit you back with an email that says, “I love it. Let’s bring it in.” No. I think that’s why a lot of people try to include so much in there is because they want the buyer deck to do the selling for them. That’s not what it’s for. If you know anything about me and you’re following the episodes and you know about buyer interaction, you know about selling, then you’ll know what I’m about to say next. The buyer deck is about interest. Your first email to a buyer is about interest. You’re trying to get them interested in engaging with you. You’re trying to get them interested in wanting to know more about your product.

The buyer deck is about interest. It's not smart to include too much. Click To Tweet

It’s not smart to include too much. You don’t want the buyer to be able to make a decision without you. That’s why I never include the pricing in the initial email that I send to a buyer because I want to build a rapport. I want to have a chance to explain the product, talk about the product, talk about the uniqueness of the product before I give them the price. If I give them price first, that could simply disqualify me. That could simply end the entire conversation. If I give them too much information first that they can make a decision on their own without talking to me. I don’t want that to happen either. Your buyer deck and your initial email that include your buyer deck are all about interest. You don’t need a lot of pages to create interest. Let’s run through your buyer deck from start to finish. If you need to know more information, you want a template, you can always reach out to me. I’m happy to work with you on that. I’ve done 1,000 different buyer decks.

Pages Of A Buyer Deck

The first page is just an intro page. It probably has a hero shot of the product and your logo. If you want to customize it to the retailer that you’re sending it to, you might want to put their logo on the header page as well. If you’re going to put their logo on the header page, make sure it’s not smaller than your logo. Make sure it’s at least as big or bigger than your logo. You never want to have this huge font of your logo in and down in the corner. That’s not what we’re looking for. We don’t want to make them feel bad. This is just off the top of my head. As you know, I’m going to roll through this. You can move these pages around if you like. Some people have different styles and understand what they want the buyer to see first. Do they want to see the product first? Do they want to understand the uniqueness of the product first? Do they want to understand the company first? Do they want to know why you’re approaching them first? Those are all good questions. For me, I am going to do the hero page and then I’m going to move right into a page about the company.

This is not going to be a long paragraph. This is going to be who we are, what we stand for and why we stand out. If you’re a company that only makes organic products or you only make recycled products or you have this type of a mission statement or you give this much back to charity. If you’re going to throw something in like that, that would be verifiable. Who is your company and why are they special? Where can they find you on social media? How do you market your company? A small little paragraph about you, “This is us.” Next, I’m going to talk about our product line, “This is what we have.” If your product line is just one product, this can be one page. If your product line is multiple products, try to fit a couple on each page so you don’t start to lengthen this out. Let’s say we have three products. I’m going to go ahead and dedicate one page for each of the products. I’m going to put a lifestyle or a good image of the product and then I’m going to create some bullet points about what makes this product unique. “Why is this product special? Why do they want to buy this product?” I might even create a little paragraph that speaks to the product and why we created it, why we’re selling it.

OTS 152 | Building A Buyer Deck
Building A Buyer Deck: Retailers want to do business with companies that are making things happen, that have a following, and that are marketing their product.


This is a one-page spec sheet on the product, except we’re not including any dimensions or case packs. If you have six products, try to do two per page. If you have ten products, try to pick your top three and let them know we have other products in our range that we can talk about at the appropriate time. Do not put all 10, 20, 40, 60 products that you have in this deck. You’re trying to create interest. If you put too much in there, they’re going to think, “This is too much for me to deal with. I can’t deal with it. I’m going to delete it.” Top three or six products if you can put two on a PowerPoint presentation page.

We have our hero page, we have our About Us, who we are and why you want to do business with us, then your products. Then I might slide in a page about what we can do for the retailer. This is a great place for you to start calling out some of the things about your companies and products that are going to raise the eyebrow of the buyer. We can increase your category sales. Let me give you an example of increasing category sales. I have a client that sells Lego compatible products, bricks, base plates, all the different things. Lego doesn’t anymore sell many loose Legos. They’re mostly kits, princess castles, Death Stars. That’s a lot of structured play. My client is into creative play, so they have items that Lego doesn’t sell anymore, but people that have Lego want to buy like stackable base plates.

One of the things that we put in the buyer deck is we’re going to help you increase your construction toy category sales by adding in these stackable base plates. They don’t take away anything else. Nobody’s going to choose them over something else so you’re not trading sales. They are simply going to be attractive to other people that come to buy Legos and see those and say, “I need base plates to for my huge bin of Legos.” They’re going to attract additional sales. People, Big Boxers, buyers love that. They want to grow their category. That’s one of their mandates. That’s on their review. How did they grow the category sales? How do they swap category sales one item for another item? Another thing that you might want to put in there is how you’re going to help them grow their margin? Buyers are responsible for margin growth. Some items that they carry are low margin. Some items that they carry are high margin. They cost average it across their category and that gives them their margin. Let’s say their overall category is 48%, how can you help them get it to 48.5%? In an entire category, a half-a-percent of margin is huge.

Once you know a little bit more about what buyers are asking you for, you can quote them an appropriate price. Click To Tweet

This one client I was talking to you about, our products carry a much better margin than Lego. By carrying them, when people buy that, the margin overall as an average is going to go up. We include that. Those are key things. You can talk about your packaging, how it’s designed to draw people in. You can talk about your uniqueness, how you’ve taken something to the next level. This page is designed to get them excited about doing business with you. It can’t just be about your item, that’s not enough. You have to start with who you are and why you’re special. Remember, retailers want to do business with companies that are making things happen, companies that have a following, companies that are marketing their product. You have this page about your company and who you are. What’s your mission statement? Why are you special? Why are consumers drawn to you? How they’re going to continue to be drawn to that retailer if they carry your product?

We have pages about the product, why they’re unique, why consumers like them, what key attributes are? We have a page talking about why you want to do business with us. What we’re going to do for you, not what you can do for us. Every buyer knows that you’re dying to sell them your product because you want to make sales. They all know that. It’s a, “What are you going to do for me?” aspect of things. That’s what they’re used to. That’s what they hear every single day. We’re going to give them a page that says, “This is not what you can do for me, but what I can do for you and your category.” That’s going to get them fired up and excited. That’s almost it. This isn’t rocket science. Remember, interest is what we’re into, not this long-drawn-out presentation that nobody has time to read. “Here’s the intro page, here’s about us, here’s my products, here’s what I can do for you and then let’s close it out.”

If you want to slide something in there between the, “Here’s what we can do for you,” and closing it out, you can put some marketing information. “Here’s our website, our Facebook page, our Twitter account, our Instagram account.” Don’t do that unless you have a robust social engagement. Don’t send them to your social accounts if there’s nothing for them to see. If there is, if you’ve been working hard on your social, you have engagement, you have a lot of followers and they talk to you and you have some brand ambassadors, build that page and encourage them to go check you out and close it out. “Here’s how you can get ahold of me.” Make it easy. Don’t clutter this whole page with all kinds of stuff. I say, “Contact us. Here I am. Here’s my email. Here’s our website. Here’s my phone number.” That’s all I put on that page. I’m going to make it easy for them to contact me. This is not a long-drawn-out process. This is for a buyer to look at, flip through, look at online. It can’t be more than five megabytes. Most retail buyers have a cutoff, five megabytes, and they won’t even get it. If you’ve been sending nine, ten, twelve megabytes buyer decks out there and you’re getting no response, most likely they don’t even get through their system.

OTS 152 | Building A Buyer Deck
Building A Buyer Deck: Your product, at some point, has to stand on its own and be judged.


Try to make sure every buyer deck you have is under five megabytes. Have I had a deck over five megabytes? Yes. What I’ve done is I’ve also created four decks over five megabytes because they simply had to be too long. In my lifetime, there have been a couple of decks that we had over five megabytes. What I did is I created a Google presentation for that. I wrote into the email, “If my deck was too big and it didn’t come through, here’s a link to the Google presentation that you can click on.” If you have questions about this, you want to comment on or you have your own opinion, please OnTheShelfNow.com and let’s have a discussion about it.

Wholesale Line Sheet And Spec Sheet

Let’s talk about a wholesale line sheet and a spec sheet. A lot of times buyers want to see everything. When I say everything, I’m not talking about tons of words. They want to know the product, the case pack, the inner case pack, the dimensions, the weight, the UPC code. They want all this info. Certain times, if you’re going to Costco, this is one of the first things they’re going to ask you for if they’re interested, “Send me all this information.” Because they plug it all into their system and they see if it’s even viable for them to move it around, “Is this going to be too expensive to send out to Hawaii or is it going to be too expensive to send to Puerto Rico or to Alaska? What’s the cost of it going to be? Let’s see if it fiscally makes sense to even work with this product first.” They’re going to ask you, “Send me all the dimensions of the master case, the inner case, the quantities, the weight of the product, the inner case. How many are on a pallet? How much does the pallet weigh?” This is all information that if you’ve reached out to me to get your vendor prep form, this is all on there. These are all things that will show up anyway in your vendor prep if you’re filling out vendor paperwork.

It’s great to have a one-pager or two-pager that has a small picture of your product and then all these different specs about that product. What’s interesting about the wholesale line sheet is it’s all of your products with all that information. It may be two pages, three pages, four pages. A spec sheet is different and that it’s just one page about each product. The information isn’t necessarily different, but you have a little bit more room. You might be able to add a picture of the product in the packaging and a lifestyle picture and you have more room to add all the specifications about the product. For instance, if you’re at a trade fair and Sony wanted to know about that specific product, you might give them your spec sheet.

If you can help buyers get to their goal, they're going to help you get to yours. Click To Tweet

It’s up to you whether you want to put your pricing. One of the things you can put is your manufacturer’s suggested retail price in there. You don’t have to put your cost in there because you might print up a lot of these and you don’t want to have to reprint it. I want to know that people are interested in my product first before I actually tell them what their cost is. I don’t necessarily have an issue even in my buyer deck in putting the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, as long as it’s not going to change for some reason, but just not cost right yet. You might be asking yourself, what if they ask you at a trade show or an eCRM session, or the buyer calls you right back after they get your email and says, “What’s the price?” What are you going to tell them? What price are you going to give them? What I do is I say, “You’re looking at about this much margin depending on what your program cost is or whether the product has to be delivered.”

You don’t know a lot about what that buyer and what that retailer’s demand about your pricing. I don’t want to make this about pricing, but it’s not a good idea to just give them a price before you know what they’re requesting. Do they want it delivered? Are they going to add in money for promotions, money for defectives? Is there stuff that you’re going to have to add? Sometimes I’ll create a triple net price, FOB my own warehouse. Here’s the lowest price. Triple net means nothing built-in or you might use the word dead net. This is a dead net FOB, our warehouse price. They know for sure this is the lowest price with nothing built-in. They pick it up at your warehouse. Anything they ask you to do after that, they know you’re going to have to requote it. You can skate through there a couple of different ways. When I’m at an eCRM session or I’m training people to go to eCRM, I let them know, give them a range. You’re probably going to be looking at 45 to 50 points a margin on this product depending on your program.

Once we understand that, I can give you a little bit more precise of a quote. At least it gives them in the range. If you were to say, “You’re going to get 25 points a margin.” They’re going to know whether they can deal with that or not deal with it. Let them understand. Once you know a little bit more about what they’re asking you for, then you can actually quote them an appropriate price. There are a couple of different things here. We have a buyer deck. It’s not more than seven pages, depending on how many products you have. It has some great photography on it. Don’t send them iPhone pictures. This is where you have to pay for some good high-resolution photography, because when you send it through email, you’re going to reduce it down. If you’ve started out with poor photography and you reduce it down to send it, it’s going to look bad.

Entering A Partnership With Retailers

You might be giving them this deck in person. This might be face-to-face. You want it to look good. There needs to be a little bit of lifestyle in there and a few hero shots. Spend some time thinking about who you are, who is your company? What do you guys stand for? Why would somebody want to do business with you? You have to think outside the product because too many people think it’s all about the product and a lot of it is. Your product at some point has to stand on its own and be judged and they’re going to either like it or thinks it’s going to sell or not. You’re entering in a partnership with this retailer. They are taking on your product and when they do that, they’re taking on your company too.

Who is your company? What does it stand for? Why does it stand out? Why do people love it? Why do you love it? Make sure you’re talking about the uniques about your product, not just the features. What problems do those uniques solve? You’re going to talk about what you can do for them. What’s in it for them, not what’s in it for you? We already know what’s in it for you. It’s money, sales, credibility. You are going to stand out in any buyer meeting that you’re in, at any time that you reach out to a buyer. If you spend a little bit of time putting yourself in their shoes and asking yourself, “What do they want? What is their boss breathing down their neck about?”

We don’t spend much time thinking about that. Think about your buyers in his or her boss’ office and their boss is saying, “Your margin is under, your category sales are down. What are you doing about that?” It’s too often we don’t think about that. We’re just in awe, “The buyer is maybe going to say yes, maybe they’re going to say no. My future is in their hands.” Start thinking about this more as a business. How are you going to help them get to their goal? A little Zig Ziglar in there. If you can do that, they’re going to help you get to yours. Lastly, if you have a robust social, if you have a robust marketing, you can put that in there. If you don’t have robust, don’t send them to your social pages if there’s nothing for them to look at, and then close it out with your contact information.


The last thing I’m going to throw out there is if there’s not enough room in your product pages to show packaging, you might throw in a whole page of different packaging. One of my clients, we have one whole page that has a peggable product. It has a product in PDQs that shows products on a shelf. It shows products on a pallet. It shows a lot of different packaging options. I had one of my clients go out and they went to Uline and they bought some Lozier shelving just like you would see in a retailer. I had them go out and buy a four-foot section and then we started merchandising it with the products that we think that they should buy first. We created these two-foot presentations. This is what it would look like if you cut a two-foot presentation of our product into your planogram. On the back of that sheet, it shows the products, what their SKU number is and some key information to make it super easy. If you have some pictures of a product on a shelf or how you would merchandise it, you can create that page, but if it’s just one page of a box and it’s just the packaging, try to fit that into your product pages.

We talked about wholesale line sheets. That’s all of your products into a sheet in their sections off for each product. There’s one picture and then all the dimensions and specifications go in there. UL approved or you have these certifications or FDA approved all go in there. A spec sheet is just one product. You can fit several different images on there, including packaging and all the dimensions, specifications and certifications go in there. Those help buyers understand what they’re dealing with and if you’re ready to come work with them. That’s buyer deck. That’s wholesale line sheets, that spec sheets. Big Boxers, I apologize that we have never talked about this. I’m glad that we did that. We’ve righted that wrong and I hope you can take this information and run with it.

Big Boxers, OnTheShelfNow.com, come make some comments. Let’s talk, let’s have some conversation. I want to hear from you. I want to hear what you’re dealing with, what’s going on, what your questions are that maybe aren’t answered. I love it when you reach out to me and tell me that you read an episode, you did something, it worked out. If you have a different way to do something or something you’ve tried a different way or you’ve tried a way and it made sense, then jump into our closed group On The Shelf Now, hit join and I’ll get you in there. You can start sharing some information with other likeminded people that are doing what you’re doing.

It’s a great group and it’s growing. We also have our On The Shelf Now Facebook page, so definitely stop by there. On The Shelf Now Twitter, we’re all over the internet. There’s nowhere you can go that you can’t find us. If you want to reach out to me, if there’s something I can do for you, you can always reach out to me on either one of my emails, Tim@TLBConsulting.com or Tim@OnTheShelfNow.com. Either one is going to get to me. It’s my honor to help you get your products into retail. I appreciate you spending your time with me. I look forward to our next episode and until then, I look forward to seeing your products on the shelf.

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