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    1. Littleflower is offline

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      #1

      How to approach a brand to buy their stock?

      I want to branch out as far as suppliers are concerned and get a little higher up on the supply chain. What is the best way to approach a brand name company to buy product from them? Are there any dos or don’ts that I should know about so I don’t look like a newbie?
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      #2
      The first and foremost thing that you need to think about is how you sell yourself. You want to look as professional as possible and look like the legitimate business that you are. That means that you have company letterhead, a valid business address and business phone number (nothing personal here – ever), and business cards. How you present yourself is critical. The brand needs to know that you are serious, reputable and qualified. They will be looking for clues to assess your legitimacy.

      The trick to approaching a brand, however, is a bit different than approaching a wholesaler. A brand exists and is successful because they have distribution set up to ensure their success. They make exclusive deals with retailers and suppliers that will then successfully sell their product.

      Keeping that in mind, I would recommend using the telephone. Don’t make your first point of contact an email. Suppliers get all kinds of emails from people inquiring about their product. They have to weed through a lot of emails to get to those that are serious. When you call, think about developing a relationship with the brand rep. Although you want to ultimately gain access to their goods, your first goal should be to develop rapport that will then lead to supply.

      When you do contact them, be confident. Know specifically what you want to ask them. What is your goal? If you’re floundering around without any purpose, you’re wasting their time. Ask specific questions as to how the process works, what their MOQs are, payment terms, etc. Get all the details of what your end goal is, but look for cues in the conversation that might open other doors as well.

      It’s good to keep in mind how you want to come off. You don’t want to come across as pushy or arrogant or ask for too much too soon. Your first goal should be to get on good terms with the sales rep so he knows your name, knows you are interested and serious.

      This might be too obvious, but bears repeating here: don’t use slang or texting language in any communications. I can’t believe people do this, but I’ve seen it. Sometimes, people can get really lax with their language and not realize that it doesn’t work or belong in the business world.
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    3. lotsofstuff is offline

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      I don’t see any harm in visiting their offices, if that’s possible. You can have the same conversation in person as on the telephone, except you seem more real to them in person and you can make a different impression face to face than over the phone. Some people might disagree with initially going to corporate offices, but I think it helps in this technological society.

    4. My2cents is offline

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      I agree that the relationship development is critical. Once I get going with a supplier I ask for discounts. I would never ask for special treatment right out of the gate. The supplier wants to know that you are a serious buyer and reliable over time. Then, they are usually happy to get into better prices or discounts or agreement.

    5. lotsofstuff is offline

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      #5
      What do you think about the possibility of taking a potential supplier or sales rep out to lunch to develop that relationship? Of course, it should be feasible to do if the company offices are within driving distance.

      You could also seek out any other buyers that you could team up with. Getting to know them will help you to see how they got in on the ground level.

    6. Littleflower is offline

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      #6
      How would it affect my chances if I had a contact in the company?

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      #7
      Go for it. That’s a point well taken. Using contacts or connections can be one of the best ways to go, at least to get your foot in the door. At any point in the process of getting in with a supplier or brand, using connections can, at the very least, get your name on someone’s desk so that when you call it’s not a cold call.

      Another thing to definitely have on hand for a phone call or meeting is your business’ numbers. You need to have proven figures that show your sales, web traffic, business plan, marketing plan, etc. Get all the documents together, like your company registration, VAT registration, tax ID, reseller’s license, etc. What approach will you use to sell this product and what plans do you have in place for marketing them?

      It will be especially helpful if you have a plan for how this particular product you’re after, will benefit sales. Think about showing them what you will do for them. Show them what they will gain from partnership with you. Being able to show that you are a viable business with a proven track record will go far and can’t do anything but help you get in the door.

    8. PamNY is offline

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      #8
      Your approach has to be professional; nothing turns me off more than someone who has misspellings in a letter or email or uses texting language. It certainly doesn’t add to their credibility. It detracts from it.

      If nothing else, the sales rep will remember you for the impression you give and you just never know where a contact will lead in the future.

    9. lotsofstuff is offline

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      #9
      There are different types of brand to distribution setups. Keep this in mind as you talk to companies. Some brands use only authorized distributors. Some brands sell only to brick and mortars. Others are corporate brands and sell their goods in their own retail stores.

      In certain cases, you’ll never get into those distribution lines. However, if you present yourself effectively and get them to take you seriously, you can ask for end of line surplus, discounted, cancelled orders and so forth. This is an option to pursue if you can’t possibly meet MOQs and other requirements at present. However, even with these types of stock, you still have to take on a lot of volume and have a cash flow to accommodate it.

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