The Beginner’s Guide to Retail Sales

You’re closer to success than you realize.

You have a marketable idea.

You have a passion for your product.

You have just about everything you need…and you’re only missing one thing: Customers!

But the process of finding and marketing to customers is a hassle. We’re talking constant selling, constant pushing, and, inevitably, constant rejection. Why not just let someone else find your customers for you?

The Value of Selling to Distributors

This is the benefit of selling directly to retailers—you can reach thousands of customers without delivering thousands of sales pitches. Indeed, you’ll only need to make one pitch: Your pitch to the distributor. Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Retailers get pitched by up-and-coming sellers all the time, so if you want to score premium shelf space on the retail floor, you’d better come prepared.

Prepare for Your Pitch Meeting

When you do get a meeting with a retail distributors, you’ll need to be ready with a structured and well-rehearsed sales pitch. Forget your personal story and the passion you have for your product—retailers are interested in the numbers. And the best way to provide this critical information is with sell sheets.

Creating Your Sell Sheet

Broadly, a sell sheet refers to a one or two page brochure that lists your product specifications, relevant production metrics, and any other data that buyers, sellers, and distributors will need to make their decisions. You’ll create this document for each retailer you meet with and leave it behind for them to keep. The typical information listed in sell sheets includes:

  • A description of the product and its benefits (nutritional info and ingredients if you’re selling a food product)
  • Photographs or 3-D renderings of the product
  • Price points
  • Customer testimonials (if you have any)
  • Your contact information

Creating a detailed and professional sell sheet is an essential part of the due diligence required for winning over retail distributors.

Tips for Drafting Your Sell Sheet

Think of the sell sheet like a résumé for your product—it’s the data that retailers will use to make their decision after the interview is over. As such, it’s in your best interest to make your sell sheet stand out as much as possible:

  • Just like a résumé, you should be creative, but stay professional.
  • Use formatting and bulleted lists to aid in readability. You’ll only hurt your chances if you show up with an essay-like document filled with walls of text. If you’re lucky, your sell sheet will be seen by multiple levels of buyers and executives in the retail pecking order, so the data should be easy to read and easy to digest at a glance.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring an actual sample of your product to the meeting. Retailers will want to see and feel the product for themselves.

Choose Your Retailer Carefully

You have plenty of retailers to choose from, so it’s important to know your goals and limitations before you begin. As tempting as it is to get your product in a few of Target’s 1,800 U.S. stores, national retailers are a tough sell. Most people do better by starting with smaller, local retailers who are more willing to give independent sellers a chance. Online web shops (think Etsy) can also help you build up some income and streamline your production.

Plus, when you finally do pitch to the big dogs, you’ll be able to take those sales metrics and say “Hey, I’ve already sold 5,000 units—and you’re missing out!” How great would that be?

Know Your Product, Inside and Out

You also need to consider how your package will look on the shelf. Retail shelf real estate is expensive, so you’ll increase your chances of squeezing in by having your product take up as little space as possible. Research products similar to yours at other retailers and see how they’re branded, displayed, and packaged. Brainstorm what type of packaging would best suit your product and allow you to show off its best features.

You Don’t Need to Know Everything to Start

Above all, don’t stress about everything you don’t know. Whether you’re starting your own business or creating a product you’re passionate about, getting your brand in front of consumers is a long process of trial and error. Keep the above tips in mind to help you along, and don’t be shy about asking for help when you encounter speed bumps along the way.

brandHEAVY is a strategic creative studio specializing in branding, packaging design, and product marketing. Our mission is to take your product and create personalized branding solutions that create instant brand recognition.  Contact us for more information about how we can help you build a design your customers will love!

About the author

Monika Cascone

We believe design is best when it is simple, honest, and human. We think we know just how to do that. We aim to exceed expectations – both yours and ours. We strive to build brands that evoke emotion and connect with people on a forever kind of level. We’re inspired by corporations with big vision and by start-ups with big dreams. We want to help you build something incredible.

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Monika Cascone

We believe design is best when it is simple, honest, and human. We think we know just how to do that. We aim to exceed expectations – both yours and ours. We strive to build brands that evoke emotion and connect with people on a forever kind of level. We’re inspired by corporations with big vision and by start-ups with big dreams. We want to help you build something incredible.

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