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Are You High Maintenance?

hard to please

Wholesale buyers are busy.

Don’t roll your eyes or get fussy. I know. We’re all busy. Right now, you’re saying, “It’s their job to find new products for their shelves.” 

Their job goes way beyond finding new products. 

Why it’s important NOT to be high maintenance.

Buyers are less likely to work with you. To illustrated, for every single slot on the shelf, there are dozens of brands trying to win that shelf space. Buyers have “pick of the litter” and will select the product that they think will add the most to their margins AND isn’t high maintenance.

Buyers do not have to work with brands that are a pain in the butt to work with. The buyer DOES NOT have all the power in the relationship. Get out of reactive, victim mode. You have complete control of how you show up in this relationship. You can show up prepared, polite, courteous, respectful of the buyers’ time OR keep on keeping on. It’s important to assess your behaviors.

What does high maintenance look like?

(This isn’t about shaming…. it’s about learning how to engage with these people)

  • To begin with, DO NOT Swing by without an appointment. Not even if you’re “in the neighborhood”. Do you just show up at the dentist? DON’T DROP BY or you’re high maintenance.
  • DON’T waste buyers time with pitches that are rambling and unclear. Your pitch has to be concise.
  • DON’T believe that, for societal reasons, your product MUST be sold in their store. Examples of this are taste, sustainability, local, etc. By doing this, you’re showing that you have no idea of what their job entails. 
  • DON’T get into pitch meetings and have the buyer realize you’re not prepared with answers to questions on things such as: logistics, pricing, delivery, and placement deals. 
  • Another key point: DON’T show up at a meeting expecting to taste the product alongside the buyer. Be prepared with cups, spoons, etc., even though it rarely happens. If you’re not prepared to taste, you’re high maintenance.
  • DO YOU have the budget or bandwidth to support your product once it’s on the shelves. To the buyer, that says you’re expecting them to make your your product sells. That’s high maintenance. Buyers want it to be an equal partnership.
  • Similarly, DON’T show up unprepared for demos and ask staff for your product, props, or any supplies. As can be seen, that’s disruptive for the in-store team. In the moment, don’t ask the store for anything. You can negotiate that ahead of time. If you do, all of a sudden, you’re high maintenance.
  • Being that they know the store better than you do, DON’T tell the buyer where or how to merchandise the product.  
  • DON’T require the store to do a lot of work just to get your product ready to be on the shelf. Example: you don’t have UPC’s, and you ask the store to sticker everything for you. That’s high maintenance. That’s on you. Same with “Best By” stickers.
  • When dropping off a delivery DON’T distract the stocking team. Your adding time to the receiving teams’ workday, not to mention, you’re high maintenance.
  • DON’T go in to meet with the inventory manager, drop off a delivery, and take up their time with high maintenance questions. To illustrate: “How are my sales?” “Merchandise it here, not there.”
  • DON’T Pitch a fit when the buyer says “No”. Not to mention, don’t get angry when things don’t go your way. Above all, don’t lose your cool, even if you want to. 
  • DON’T undermine the buyer’s authority. To illustrate, making special requests, asking too many questions, being unprofessional, making inappropriate jokes, bribes…
  • DON’T Email every single week in the hope the buyer will re-order. As soon as you do, you’re high maintenance. As has been noted, there are systems, this is not it.

putting it all together:

In conclusion, be courteous, polite, respectful, and treat the other person as you’d like to be treated. Being an aggressive, forceful vendor is not the way to do it. 

What I’m saying is, examine your own behavior. Understand the buyer’s workload. In the final analysis, are you or are you not supporting a relationship that is ideally based on mutual goals and respect.

All things considered, review the list. Be kind to yourself. Ask for feedback. Find areas where you can improve your interactions. In short, be kind.

Want some feedback on your pitch? Schedule a call! Interested in commercial kitchen rentals in Los Angeles? In more free resources?

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