When The Buyer Isn’t Interested On YOUR Timeline

When The Buyer Isn’t Interested On YOUR Timeline

If you’re not getting retail buyer meetings for annual reviews, what do you do? How do you push past this barrier? 

Here is how I would triage your thinking. 

  1. Step back and re-evaluate your tactical approach to the buyer. 
  • Was it a partnership offer or a chest-beating pitch?  
  • Do you have a credible program out-of-store to drive traffic in-store? 
  • Did you present any prior velocity case study from another retailer? 

    2. Are there two or more early-stage brands doing basically the exact same thing at this chain? 
  • If so, then accept that you’re late and focus on chains that haven’t been saturated.
  • Remember, early on, you don’t need lots of chains to get into Phase 2 of the Skate Ramp. You just need strong velocities and velocity growth; better to have an interested buyer than to chase one who clearly doesn’t care. 
  • You may have an easier time getting to the hard-to-get retailer when you do well at their competitor! This is very true of the supermarket sector. 

    3. Grow online farther BEFORE chasing brick retail 
  • Your professional approach will tighten with operational scale into Phase 2 
  • Unless you’re blessed with a killer CPG network, trying to launch in big chains early on is going to be very difficult for anyone. In part, this is because many CPG veterans are quitting to launch businesses and garner more early trust (more than they often deserve, frankly).
  • Doing this will allow you to have market momentum and a real business behind you as leverage (buyers react differently, very differently, to various levels of scale).

    4. Re-assess your product line – is it actually so late in the category’s trend cycle that you would need a very cash intensive- brand identity approach to growth? If you’re launching a gluten-free cookie, for example, you just need to raise tons of money to buy your way onto shelves. Your innovation alone is unlikely to swing retail doors wide open easily at all.  

Finally, don’t believe the rumors that no buyer will take a meeting off-cycle or that you can’t negotiate as a startup. Neither is true as absolute claims. And do NOT fixate on one or two chains when others will do fine. Have multiple accounts in play at all times. Think of college applications. Don’t psychologically overcommit to one account when others will do fine. 

Dr. James Richardson

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