November 30, 2023
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Choosing your words carefully and understanding how to manipulate a room full of people can go a long way, but sometimes strong personalities just aren’t enough. Convincing retailers to carry your product means fielding countless questions and overcoming reservations about your brand.
Being able to manage objections in a sales meeting is a skill that is necessary for the beverage industry.
Some major objections that you are bound to come up against will be regarding your bottle price, the retailer’s resistance to change, their trust in you as a supplier and your product’s success, any promises they’ve made with other brands and their need to consult with the rest of the team before taking on your product.
What your retailer might say: “Similar competing brands are selling for less.” Or “Your bottle price is too high. I don’t think we can make money on your brand.”
You are guaranteed to come up against retailers who need help justifying the price of your product and you should be ready to negotiate, no matter what. A lot of retailers will say that price is a factor even when they are ready to sign you on, just to see if you’ll drop your price.
Plan your strategy before you go into your meeting. Visit your retailer’s top stores, look at your competition’s shelf prices and price your brands accordingly. You want to go in with a strong offer that you know is competitive but also gives you room to negotiate. If they want you to drop your prices then try and negotiate more stores, premium shelf space, better credit terms or promotional opportunities. Know your bottom line. If you can’t afford to supply your beverages for their offer price then walk away.
What your retailer might say: “We don’t sell much of your category, so we’ll have to pass.”
Whether you are representing a new craft beer or a big-name liquor company, sometimes retailers just don’t specialize in your type of beverage. If you’ve done your background research you shouldn’t be in this position and the retailer might just be using this as an excuse because he wasn’t sold on your pitch.
Start by sharing research you’ve done on the growth of your category. Talk about how the trend is developing, give them a look at how the industry has performed in the last five years and project numbers that show a healthy future for your project. As you build your case, mention your competition and point out reasons why your brand is better positioned to succeed.
What your retailer might say: “That rack is reserved for xyz distributor and I am locked into their program for the next 12 months.”
When you are trying to negotiate good shelf space, sometimes you’ll come up against roadblocks that seem like they might be impossible to overcome. A retailer’s prime real estate is usually reserved for their key suppliers and it’s hard to convince them that your product is worth the risk. See if they are open to giving you alternative shelf space where you think can succeed in showcasing your brand and ask them if they are open to giving you the chance to prove yourself. Don’t overreach, but if you are confident and have the resources to offer good support programs then tell them that you think you can outsell the distributor’s products and earn your spot on their top shelf.
Keeping up communication lines, asking for up-to-date depletion reports and providing solid support programs will prove to your retailer that you are dedicated to making your beverage worth their top retail spot.
What the retailer might say: “I can only replace your brand with XYZ brand, and I still have stock left to sell.”
If this is their only objection, then you are in a good place to negotiate. Ask the retailer about how long they’ve been carrying the other brand, what kind of support programs they are offering and when the retailer thinks that the stock will be fully depleted. If they are willing to give you the information then you can start giving them solutions to their problems.
Once they start talking about the competition’s lack of dedication, give them your top support programs (because if the retailer is willing to drop the brand and still has stock that they can’t get rid of, then you can guarantee that the brand isn’t providing enough support to make the retailer happy.)
Reaffirm your commitment to making your brand a category leader and be ready to field any questions they have on your POS and merchandising support programs.
Ask for a follow-up meeting that matches their estimated timeline and promises to come back with an offer they will like. Follow up with a phone call after your first meeting thanking them for their time and visit them at their shop around the date of your follow-up to confirm your meeting. Read the full article on BTN Academy.