What The Buyer Wants To Know





Your Experience
Your Solution

Buyers do not appreciate your product. Sales staffs in retail stores do not understand your product.

Retail forces you to advertise in their catalogues. The catalogues degrade your product – so you do not use energy here.

Follow some simple rules and you will give the buyer what he needs.

It is extremely important you follow up yourself and provide the retail stores with the correct flow of information.

Without information, they will not understand. Whether your advertising agency likes it or not – Retail uses their own advertising which does not necessarily give your product any benefits. On the other hand, by driving the information flow to the buyer you will increase your chances of increasing your sales (without reducing the price)


Identifying the right contact is critical

Your first job is to find the name of the buyer who is responsible for your product category (see Category Management). If you do not identify the right contact now you will have to do it later during your follow-up, creating extra work later. There is an extremely high paced environment at any retail headquarters. Buyers have no time for anything so long texts are only scanned – in fact the buyers at headquarters often find it difficult to concentrate on reading anything for any length of time. Consequently, they learn to scan any written information. So, do not expect your target person to have read any of your information when you make your follow-up call.  
You definitely want to be in control of the contact phase. Therefore NEVER let the buyer say that he/she can call you back. It will not happen. You probably also have to call dozens of times before the buyer takes you serious. Even if you have a category killer, this might still be the case. Do not be offended – That is just how it is.

Retail’s chain of information

For brick-and-mortar retail chains, there are 4 levels of information to consider:

  1. Initial information to headquarters
  2. Information from headquarters to stores
  3. Display Information to customers in stores
  4. Information for advertisements

Anything else can be a combination of this.

1. Initial information to headquarters

It is important your communication flow starts at the most detailed level. Here you communicate the most detailed information about your product. You want to convince retail that your product has USP (Unique Selling Points) and you want to make sure they understand your strategy developed under topic Category management.

Since retail (the buyer) does not have time to read long texts, keep it short and structured. Below is good format for structuring your information (Download formulary):

  1. Headline in max 5 words
  2. Picture of product or retail box
  3. 3 lines of benefit statements
  4. Category the product belongs in
  5. Examples of known products in same category
  6. What it is that distinguishes your product from others (your USP). Why the retail company should have your product in their assortment
  7. Previous successes or indications of potential success with the product
  8. Suggested retail sales prices
  9. Elements like return policy (if especially positive)
  10. Who to contact
  11. In your cover letter you state that you will contact the person on a certain day

Have your sales price ready if the buyer asks for it. It is clearly a screening-out question. Nevertheless, since it is open for negotiation depending on i.e. sales quantity you should try to arrange a meeting before stating the price. It is so much better and easier to build up a relationship when meeting face to face.

2. Information from headquarters to stores

Once your product is accepted, the headquarters needs to inform the stores about the product, so the sales people know what to say and do. The retail headquarters needs to position the product compared to the other products in the same category. They will (should) provide the stores with selling-up arguments. You might be able to help here. Headquarters can either send out information through a computerized information system or more manually. You have to ask how you can be most helpful. Try to get the headquarters acceptance, that you can send material directly to the stores. If you get their buy-in for direct contact to stores, remember to ask the headquarters to provide you with the addresses and contact persons in all the stores so you can send material directly to the sales staff in the stores. It is extremely important that stores have the right information and are well informed so it is to your greatest advantage to press for direct contact to the individual stores.

See the topic Education Management for more information on how to inform/educate the sales people in the stores.

You might agree with the headquarters that you give sales people incentives. This is also important information to communicate to the stores. Normally headquarters want to be in control of this type of information Therefore, before you inform the stores about sales incentives, make sure that you and the buyer have an agreement.

3. Display Information to customers in stores

As you probably have seen in the stores, display information does not take more space than 4-10 words. Even though it is only a few words, you can help headquarters develop the short messages on the displays. Highlight the facts that will tell a consumer what kind of a product it is. (that will differentiate your product from the competitors or that will highlight the USP’s or key benefits of the product)

The best way to inform potential customers is through the displays on your packages (i.e. software box). The first thing people notice about your product is the graphics on your package. Invest time and money in designing the front of your package. Have a graphic illustration that captures/communicates the essence of the customer benefits. Make it simple and easy to understand. On the back of your package you should describe in detail what the customer gets from buying the product.

Recommendations/awards/endorsements from computer magazines always work well as sales arguments. Invest resources in obtaining this from computer magazines.

Most retail chains have their own ideas about the look in the stores, and you cannot just expect them to put up your posters and big display material. But if they are developed as part of a campaign, you have a greater chance of the store accepting and using the material (for a limited time).

Be prepared to pay for shelf space. The cost for this depends on the retail chain and product category. You must clarify this issue to ensure you have sufficient budget for this and it is also included in your price setting analysis.

4. Information for advertisements

You may very well be forced to pay for advertising space in retail brochures etc. This is an investment for you so get involved in this process and to ensure you get the most value for your money. Look at examples of brochures and cut out newspaper advertisements from the relevant chains to see the general size of picture for similar products and allocated text space. Usually you get about 5 – 30 words. Make two versions of the text, one with 10 words and the other with 20 words. The text should communicate the benefits that the customers get with your product. Do not just write i.e. VideoCam VGA USB. State instead WHY the customer should buy this particular product (and not a competing product). This is your chance to tell the customers something more than just that this particular chain sells the product.

Jens Welling


The author of this article Jens Welling has worked with retail purchase, retail sales and retail marketing over the last 15+ years. Jens Welling has written a number of articles as a good source for any new and established company who want success with retail sales. Below are short descriptions and links to other articles.

Why You Have To Do Your Homework
Selling through retail is one of the toughest sales channels there is. Reactions come instantly. There is no mercy for mistakes in retail sales. One word covers what you need: Preparation. ...Read more

Choosing Sales And Distribution Channels
Make the right choices from the very beginning. Group the sales channels and start with the companies that fit your size and that do not compete head-on with each other. Use the distribution channels actively to get contacts inside the sales channels....Read more

Category Management
Learn to understand and use Category Management to your advantage and earn money....Read more

Unique Selling Points (USP)
Take the time to find out exactly WHOM your consumers are. You need to find your Unique Selling Points (USP). Once you get to know them, you'll know what to say to them!...Read more

Price Strategy
Right from the beginning, you have to be aware that On-line stores will “dump” your prices if you are not in control. Base your price strategy on your long-term goals: Where you want to sell the most products....Read more

What The Buyer Wants To Know
The buyer does NOT want a lot of information. He/she is living in a very high-paced environment and only wants your information in brief bullet points. Follow some simple rules and you will give the buyer what he needs....Read more

Exit Strategy
You must prepare your business for the anticipation risk of large quantities of products to be returned. You need an exit strategy. The returned products can be used to create new sales channels and partnerships, turning this somewhat hopeless situation into a profitable one....Read more

Price Setting
Consumers have psychologically priced a product with a certain amount that they are willing to pay (price point). If you exceed their psychological value, you risk failing in retail....Read more

Negotiation Tactics
It is obvious to focus on price as a sales factor. However, help yourself by prepare for negotiation tactics by highlighting the other Unique Selling Points (USP) - and at a minimum explain the price per performance compared to competitors....Read more

Rejection From Buyer
The buyer can reject you for several reasons. You must talk to the buyer to find out exactly WHY you got rejected.....Read more

Marketing Strategy
Selling to a retail chain often means you have to advertise in their catalogues, newspaper ads, etc.
This alone does not create a brand; you must also supplement the retail advertising with your own marketing strategy....Read more

Education Management
Your energy must focus on the stores (retail training). Face-to-face education is the most effective but also the most time-consuming and expensive....Read more

What retail warranties are you ready for? Depending on your sales channels, you must consider the quantity of products that may be returned...Read more

Building A Brand
You must raise the consumers' awareness and perceived value of your product through brand development.
Once you do this, consumers can and will identify your product as a brand....Read more

A high tech vendor will eventually have late delivery of products regardless of penalties. So what should a vendor do when the logistics fail?...Read more

Keeping Your Store Sales Alive
Keeping your retail store sales alive is a never-ending process....Read more

Product Development
One of the advantages to having a relationship with the sales channels is that you can discuss future product development....Read more