Preparing For a Gift Store Sales Presentation

INTRODUCTION

Preparing the materials and systems needed for your first gift sales presentations is the most important task you need to accomplish before visiting your first potential retail store buyer. Most people assume the hardest work goes into making the product, but if time is not spent developing and setting up the systems you need to wholesale BEFORE you visit your first buyer, you will find yourself in a confusing and overwhelming mess! And you will look very unprofessional to your potential buyers!

RETAIL/WHOLESALE PRICE STRUCTURE

As a general rule of thumb, your wholesale price should be 50% of your retail price. If it is less, you will have a difficult time selling your products wholesale. Often, it will take some work to make sure there are adequate margins for you both and the gift retailer.

Here is a formula to use when determining pricing for your products:

First step is determining your cost per unit. Costs include the following:
o Ingredients or raw materials
o Processing or assembly of raw materials
o Packaging and labeling
o Shipping of raw materials to your place of business

Second step is to determine the retail or selling price of your item to the consumer. Using a competitor’s selling price is a starting point to ensure you are in the same price range. From the selling price, you work backwards to arrive at the wholesale price you should charge.

From the retail or selling price, subtract the retail and distributor or sales rep margins. Most retailers in the gourmet foods industry use a margin of 40%, whereas gift retailers use a 50% margin. Distributor margins are generally 25-35%, and broker or sales rep commissions are general 15%. Even if you currently do not use distributors, brokers or sales reps, these margins should be included in your pricing. As you grow and add these services, you want to have your pricing in place.

As a manufacturer, you should aim to retain a 40% gross margin. This gross margin must be large enough to cover overhead, administrative costs and marketing expenses.

Example:

If the retail or selling price is $5.00, total manufacturing costs per unit are $1.40 and the manufacturer pays shipping costs of 5 cents per unit, you would sell your product to the distributor for $2.20.

PAYMENT TERMS

Typical standard payment terms for selling to gift stores are Net 30 days. In other words, you deliver or ship your products and in 30 days the retailer will pay for the order.

Credit card payment is another standard payment method which is becoming more popular with gift store buyers.

Other payment terms which are not as common are as follows:

o Pay via PayPal. In the eight years I have been a sales rep, I have not seen a store use this option, but it is available if you have a PayPal account
o 2% Net 10. If the store pays their bill in ten days rather than 30 days, they can deduct 2% from the total due.
o Net 60 or 90 days. In the event that you wish to get your product on the shelf quickly, but have the cash flow to wait longer for payment, this is a good option. I used Net 60-90 to promote early sales during a very slow season.
o Pay half the invoice amount when the order is shipped or delivered and pay the balance due in 30 days. I used this option with a store that was historically late with their payments.
o COD or cash on delivery. If you deliver your products, this option will probably work, but I don’t recommend it if you are shipping.

Which ever terms you decide to use, remember to investigate all your options and be well prepared when offering payment options to your potential buyers.

SALES AND ORDERING MATERIALS

Sales material for the retail store buyer is very different from the color brochure you may hand out to consumers. Gift store buyers want to know five basis facts about ordering your products:

1. What does it look like?
2. How much does it cost?
3. What is the minimum order?
4. What are your terms?
5. How do I re-order?

Your sales material should answer all these questions.

Simple, but effective, sales materials can be created on your computer. Start with a picture of your products and make sure you include all the information that answers the five questions above: List unit and case costs, minimum amount for orders, ALL the terms you will accept, and your contact information (phone, fax, email and website). Sales sheets can be copied and left with buyers.

Write your orders in sales order books which can be purchased at any office supply store. Two copy sales order or general order books work best as you can use the top for your records and a second copy for your buyer. Rather than having the sales books personalized (an expensive process), you can print a small label to adhere to the buyers sales order copy that includes your name and contact information. Leave this copy with the buyer.

If you are able to buy or create business cards, give one to the buyer or store manager. Business cards make your company look more professional.

DELIVERY SYSTEMS

Determining how you will get your products to the retail outlets is often an overlooked point in the wholesale sales system. You can give a perfect presentation to gift store buyers, but if you don’t have a delivery system, your products will never make it to the shops!

Listed below are a few options to getting your products into the store.

1. Deliver the products yourself. If you have a small territory to cover, delivering your products is not a bad idea.
2. You can hire a distributor to handle your products. Often, with this scenario, you would sell your products to a distributor at a deep discount who would warehouse and distribute them via their system.
3. You can ship your products to the retail outlets. This is the most common way to get your products to the shops. With this option, it is customary to bill the retail outlet for the shipping while you pay for the cost of packing your products.

If you decide to ship, make sure to check out the shippers available in your area. UPS, Federal Express and US Postal Service are three very reliable shipping vendors. Each company has their own requirements for packaging, insurance and delivery time. You should acquaint yourself with the specifics of all the companies you plan to use. Most freight companies have websites where you can open an account and print labels right from your computer.

BOOKKEEPING AND DATABASE SYSTEMS

Setting up a good system to track your gift store buyers and your sales is necessary to maintain your sales records.

Bookkeeping Systems: QuickBooks is the most commonly used computer bookkeeping system available. You can use QuickBooks to invoice, track sales, expenses, accounts payable (what you owe people) and accounts receivable (what people owe you!).

If you decide to use QuickBooks, you have the option of using QuickBooks Pro or QuickBooks Premier for Manufacturers. Pro version is the standard basic bookkeeping system whereas Premier will allow you to track inventory and cost of good sold (cost to manufacture your products).

Or if you wish to use just a very simple system to keep track of sales, Microsoft Excel gives you the option to list each sale and payment dates.

Database Systems: Depending how intricate of a system you want, there are several different options for database systems. Microsoft Access has many field options depending on how much information you wish to retain and gives you the option to print mailing labels if you want to send newsletters to your buyers.

QuickBooks has an add-on program called Customer Manager which can manage more advanced customer information such as recent contacts, phone messages, calendar notes, and TO DO lists.

Lots of customer management systems are available, just like there are more bookkeeping systems you can use. The important point is to use what will work best for you and meets your business needs.

FOLLOW UP AND RE-ORDERING SYSTEM

If you have followed my suggestions so far, you should have the beginnings of your re-order system in place.

One of the first places a buyer will look for re-order information will either be by referencing your invoices or your order receipts. Including your contact information, email, phone, address, and website (if you have one) on these forms is critical to ensure the buyer will be able to re-order from you. And if you have left your business card with the buyer, even better!

So you set up all these systems… left all the appropriate products and materials with the buyer… and now your wait to hear back from the buyer….. WRONG!! Buyers are very busy people and will seldom call you with a re-order (although, I have been wrong about this!). Often times, your product will sell out, be filled with another product, and the buyer will forget your product was there originally!

Keep in touch with your buyers. I recommend that you call about 30 days after they receive your order. Check to see if your products arrived promptly and in good condition and that they are satisfied with the order. Buyer’s answers will give you some clues as to how well your products are selling. You might ask them when you should check back with them. Or just call again in another 30-45 days depending on how well they tell you the products are selling.

If you have added each customer to a database such as Microsoft Access or Excel or one of the customer management software programs, you can tract and schedule when you should follow up with each account. Personally, I use a mix of Microsoft Access and Outlook to remind me.

Follow up is very important, like I said, as buyers can and will lose track of your and your products if you don’t!!

CONCLUSION

Simple planning and implementing systems BEFORE you make your first sales presentation will aid you in keeping accurate records and keeping a professional profile when visiting gift store buyers.

Sandy Dell is an experienced independent sales representative for the gift industry. Having operated her own business for over eight years, she has gain valuable knowledge in working with gifts store buyers and producers. She is also co-owner of Gourmet Innovations which makes gourmet foods and gifts. “I have been on both sides of the counter”, she tells her buyers. More than that, she understands the needs of the producer and the gift buyer and knows how to communicate to both groups!

Your Future Determines Your Present (How Your Vision For Tomorrow Effects Your Happiness Today)

“How your vision for tomorrow affects your happiness today”

You’re sitting quietly in your corporate cubical that seems today not much larger than a postage stamp; your only light is a fluorescent that is blinking its way to “burnt out”, much like yourself. The stack of paper work piled on top of your “in” basket would make your desk buckle if it weren’t one of those old crappy metal desks that weigh just under a ton.

Earlier in the day your boss emailed you a terse note about a project that went south and though you only played a small part in the process, she has chosen you to be the scapegoat, lest her image be tarnished to upper management.

To make matters worse, just moments later she walks by your cube smiles, pats you on the back, and wishes you a happy day, confirming your suspicion that she in fact deals with a multiple personality disorder.

You decide to go have a cup of coffee but two things deter you, first of all, the coffee in the pot looks and smells, as if it was made last week, secondly, all of the cups are dirty and piled in the sink, and there is nothing to wash them with.

Your need for caffeine is intense enough for you rinse and wash a cup using your hand, pour yourself some black mud and just as you turn to head back to your desk, mid sip, the brown-noser from two cubicals over, who is flirting with the receptionist, runs into you splashing coffee all over your new white shirt. He feels bad and says, “O super sorry”, and finishes with, “lucky I didn’t get any on me, this is a new shirt”

You do your best to rinse the coffee stains, pour out the remnant left in your cup and head back to your desk caffeine deprived.

You sit down and notice that despite all the horror of this day, you are smiling.

Strike that, you are giddy with happiness.

Why?

Because it is Thursday and in just 24 hours you will have officially started your vacation where for 2 weeks you will do little more than lay in the sun, drink those happy drinks with little umbrellas in them, eat food that other people prepare for you, walk on the beach, go to sleep and wake up whenever you want, read and spend time with the one you love.

You are presently in cubical hell, but nothing can kill the emotional buzz that your future vacation is providing you.

Because your immediate future is determining your present state of mind.
The converse is also true

It is the last day of your vacation; you are working on the finishing touches of the tan that you have so carefully crafted (with the help of the sun). Dirty Martini in hand, a warm breeze caresses your skin and the love of your life is breathing softly as she sleeps soundly on the sand next to you.

But you are feeling stressed, your chest feels tight, your mind is spinning with thoughts of deadlines and unfinished tasks at work…. And why?

Because in less than 24 hours you will be back in that dank cubical with the flickering light and the pile of unfinished work, that no doubt, has grown in your absence and even though you are physically in paradise, your mind is in hell.

Because your vision for tomorrow is affecting your happiness today.

Do you have a “vision” for your future?

A vision is a picture?

A picture of yourself down the road a bit….. five years from now, ten years from now, thirty years from now.

If we were sitting in my living room you and I could exchange stories of people down through history who grew to be amazing contributions to the world around us against tremendous odds, only because they chose to see their future before it materialized. It became the prime motivator, the daily inspiration and the purpose for their living.

This ability to dream of “what could be” is a powerful and amazing gift given to each one of us. Our ability to visualize a future filled with what it is that we want out of life is paramount to curbing the negative energy that wants to kill our joy and excitement for each new day.

Take some time to sit down and think about what it is that you want for your life.
Picture yourself involved in various activities included in that future. What is it that you like? What sorts of people will you meet in this possible life? Will their lives be impacted for the better because of what you are doing?

And then write it out, write it out, write it out….

And then do whatever it takes to get you there. Do you need more schooling? Do you need funding? Do you need a friends help?

No matter your age, your experiences (both bad and good), your gender, color or creed. You have a God given inner strength that can change your world and bring peace and good-will to you and to all those around you.

Take a picture with your heart and mind, a picture of your future and review it every day.

Win More Negotiations By Not Fearing Compromise

When you negotiate, do you fear compromise? Do you know the best way to compromise in a negotiation?

Too many times, negotiators lose deals either because they don’t compromise, or they don’t know how to do so in the right way. Read this article and you’re sure to pick up some tips as to how to compromise in your negotiations.

Test Compromise Request:
Negotiation Tip: When you’re asked to make a compromise, first question the intent of the request; you really need to know why it’s being made. If you believe it stems from greed, physically display contemplation. Then ask why you’re being asked for the compromise. In so doing, you’ll gain insight into the mental thought process of the other negotiator, which will allow you to make assumptions about his future request (i.e. you can prepare for them). If you feel the compromise is unwarranted, deny it, give a reason if that’s appropriate, and move on. If you do grant it, find out what else might be associated with the request before doing so. You don’t want to make one compromise after another, not knowing when the requests will end.

Compromise Slowly:
When compromising, do so slowly. First, by doing so, you slow the pace of the negotiation. Second, you display non-verbally, that you’re ‘weighing’ the perspectives of your contemplation. In essence, you’re sending the signal that you’re not being flippant per the request and you’re giving it the thought process so do. By not compromising quickly you also send the signal that the other negotiator should be cautious about making too many requests.

Leave Room for Compromise:
When making compromises, consider alternatives to what’s being asked for and the impact that such will have on the negotiation. Just because the other negotiator ask for ‘x’ doesn’t mean he really wants it. He may be testing you to see what he can get from you. If that’s the case, in some situations you may want to make the concession (compromise) as a setup to a request you dearly wish him to grant you. In such situations, use compromises statically. Regardless, don’t be haphazard with them and always leave room for compromise.

Never Fear Asking:
When it comes to seeking more of what you want in a negotiation, don’t fear asking for it. Some negotiators feel, if they ask for too much, they might lose what they’ve already received. That can be true, but if you preference your request with humility, you can take the potential sting out of your request. The way to do so might be saying something like, ‘I appreciate getting to the point of where we are, might you be able to give ‘x’ to slightly improve the deal?’ If you make your request in this manner very few negotiators would assess you as being belligerent.

Fear not when it comes to compromising during a negotiation. There are a myriad of ways to position your request such that you gain more by doing so, while leaving the other negotiator in a positive frame of mind. Implement the thoughts above during your negotiations and more of your requests will be granted… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!