In this article, our wholesale expert Therese Ørtenblad will talk about what you need to do to stay on top of your wholesale this autumn.
September is a busy month, the children go back to school, you might have one or two trade-shows at the beginning of the month and even if you don’t, you want to set aside as much time as you can to introduce yourself to potential stockists, particularly if you are targeting independents who will be looking for newness. Don’t forget to look after your existing stockists and make sure they place their autumn orders if they haven’t already.
To use your time as efficiently as possible here are a few tips.
Each approach you make should be tailored to the business you are targeting but you can and should still have a few email templates that you can use as a base to save you time.
Introduction email, this is your shop window in a way so make sure you have a concise and punchy email template if you’re unsure about how to write this have a look at this post.
Create templates for your follow-ups, this will make it a lot easier and will hopefully mean that it doesn’t get moved to the bottom of your to-do list. I’ve listed 1,2,3 here but it doesn’t mean that you need to stop there. After your initial follow up, keep suggested talking points and use them to get back in touch with regular intervals.
A Talking point might be a new season, an occasion coming up such as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or some great PR. By writing them down and keeping a list you don’t have to spend time on coming up with new ways each time.
If you can, turn a few of your follow-ups into a phone call, it might save you lots of time if you can get a hold of the buyer and it’s nice to mix things up. If you do speak to a buyer, then always send a follow-up email afterwards.
Keep a template for sending order confirmations and/or the proforma invoice, one with your terms and conditions as this is something that is asked frequently and one for getting back in touch and checking in with your existing stockists.
Just as with your introductory emails these templates should always be tailored to the receiver, so they only form the base of what you want to say.
Keep neat folders for all your sales material that you can share with both existing and potential customers and a separate folder to share with neatly labelled product images for your stockists to use for social media, their website and press. This way you don’t have to spend time sending individual images all the time but you will still need to send high-res images separately but generally, they are only needed for printed materials.
Find a way to keep all your leads neatly, a spreadsheet or a CRM system (there are plenty of free options) would be great. Make sure to always update whatever you use each time you take action and to save time make sure that you only do your customer research once and write down what type of business they are, how you came across them and how they are a good fit for your products and anything else you can find out.
Get into the habit of keeping this up-to-date, if they visited you at a show or if they started following you on social media write this down.
Prepare the list of targets before you sit down to send your introductions or your calls and then focus solely on that until your list is done, if you’ve been making calls, make notes as you go but don’t send your follow up emails until you’re done with your last call.
Of course, I know this is much easier said than done but if you are constantly jumping between things it will take longer.
Following up with potential customers and leads is often something that gets moved to the bottom of the to-do list as other things, often the creative parts are so much more fun and satisfying so make sure you allocate time each week to your wholesale and follow up and stick with it. If you are the most productive in the morning, before you get distracted by other things, then schedule it accordingly.
Things will come up, people will ask you to phone back at a different time and will email you back at all sorts of times and you should be reactive to these but allocate time each week to work on new business and to keep in touch with your stockists.
If you want help to get organised and make sure you put your wholesale at the front of your business Therese offers 1:1 mentoring and you can find out more about the services she offers over on her website, where you can also book a free discovery call. For more tips follow her on Instagram and join her mailing list to receive a free eBook to help you further on your wholesale journey. Therese also just launched a podcast, Let’s Talk Shop where she speaks to buyers, shop keepers, brand owners and experts about wholesale and buying.
After a decade in the home and gift industry, Therese founded the Small Business Collaborative to help small creative businesses navigate their journey to wholesale. Therese has sold a vast range of products to both independent shops and large high street retailers.
Seeing your products in a retail store might seem like a faraway goal, Therese will guide you and share her knowledge to give you the tools and confidence you need to reach your destination.