By Vanessa Ting
Use a “no” as an opportunity to get more information to improve your pitch.
Never receive a “no” without following up to ask “what would you like to see done differently?” Remember, a “yes” means that you have satisfied the buyer’s requirements in three areas:
1) Product, pricing and packaging are all in order
2) Your supply chain, inventory management and customer support operations are all in order
3) You have a marketing plan for how you will build awareness and drive sales to shelf
So if you hear “no” then find out which of the three areas above need improvement. Being mindful of the buyer’s limited time and with diplomacy, press on for more details on where your product and pitch fell short.
Be open-minded when receiving the feedback. Don’t use it as an opportunity to argue or be defensive. Just take it all in and take good notes. At the end of the conversation, ask kindly if you can contact them again after you have investigated the feedback and have improvements to share.
Timing also matters. There have been times I said “no” for 6 straight months and then one day, a spot on my shelf opened up or consumer trends shifted – and all of sudden that “no” became a “yes”. Because timing is a driving force, it is important to stay on top of business changes occurring with that retailer and the industry. Do this by reading industry news daily, talking with your peers and following experts on Twitter. As the tide shifts, opportunity for your product may emerge. It’s your job to recognize it, jump on it and use it to your advantage. Romy is successful because she is good at finding relevant news-bites and business updates to create dialogue with buyers. This keeps her brand top-of-mind with buyers so next time a spot opens up, they think of her first.
For more on this topic, you can stream an audio clip of an interview I gave on this topic. Move the marker to 23:08 to skip straight to the juicy stuff, “What to do when the retailer says no”.