First and foremost, you should know and set up the following before you contact any convenience store or distributors: Pricing, Inventory, Spec Sheets, Sales Sheets, and a “deck” power-point or PDF. You can see samples of these by googling the terms. Pricing your product can be a tricky equation so be sure to pay close attention to those details. These details should include your pricing broken down to be understood, what exactly your competition is selling their product for and you will need to know your internal costs.
Convenience Store Distributors do not care if you are a start-up, or if your product costs more than the next. They just want to be able to make a profit and see that your product can compete with the existing competition if you have any.
Big calls can happen at any moment, so make sure you always have your answers ready for questions like this.
You need to know what you have in inventory, what the lead times are for each and every order size, minimum order quantity, and pricing tiers based on volume. This brings us to the Sales Sheets. Sales Sheets show the top 4-6 reasons why someone would want your product. You need to describe what problem your product solves, why yours is the best solution, other key features, how much it has sold, and or any key accounts or celebrities that endorse your product. Make sure you have the UPC, display measurements, and all available colors or flavors. Also on this Sales Sheet, you need to have great images of the product. These images are of a single unit, or in a special display. You should also have MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) and any other specials you are running, such as buy three and get the fourth free. The Sales Sheet is to show distributors why they need to buy your product and you are able to give them all this information. Make sure you also add the M.O.Q. (Minimum Order Quantity) on your Sales Sheets. When I first sold my product to distributors, I would have an M.O.Q and a quantity where I would cover shipping. 90% of the time, they would always buy the amount where I covered shipping, this term is called “Pre-Paid”.
The Spec Sheet is where you will break down all measurements of units, displays, cases, pallets, and truckloads. This is mainly for warehouse purposes. This shows a distributor how many displays will come in one case and how many cases of your product are on a pallet. You also can use this sheet to show off some other cool displays that may work, have your end cap display and how many units it holds, if you have one. If you get in a Convenience Store Chain you may get a power wing, so have that configuration on there as well.
The Deck Page is six to ten pages of who you are, who your company is, why the product exists (what is the problem it solves?), and the biggest part, why there is a need for your product. You can also include how many accounts and what key accounts you are in currently. Showing that people are reordering your product is a major plus.
Now that you have your sales package ready with some killer images, videos and other great things in your presentation, you are ready to start making some calls. If you call Convenience Store Distributors or Convenience Store Suppliers then you better be ready to sell them on your vision so they will want to be on your team. When a distributor places your product in stores, they are sending one of their sales representatives to get products stocked onto the shelves. In order to show what a wonderful company you are, you can use these sales representatives as your own Brand Ambassadors, if you give them an incentive. A term we use for this is called a “spiff”. A spiff is a cash incentive that you can pay to the sales representatives for them placing and reordering your product. It works wonders, trust me. Take a look at it from this point of view: If you or I were sales representatives for a distributor and we are pushing hundreds of products a day, which brands would we focus on? The brands that are giving us some sort of cash incentive, right?
You will need to get sales representatives and buyers of these Convenience Store Distributors behind you. You can use a c-store broker to do this if you aren’t familiar with this field. Convenience store brokers will go out and sell your product to key accounts if you can get them to represent your line. You can also run a sales contest with these sales representatives, but remember to always give them a lot of support. Telling the story of you, your company and about how much you believe in what you are doing is important because it shows your passion, and it is contagious. This will help gravitate stores to your company and product. This will get you premium placements, nice in store promotions, and a mini sales force pushing your product at each store. Now that you have everything lined up, it’s time to Bring the Sell to the Shelves. It is important to know that you need to back up these store placements with marketing, promotions, and advertising if possible in order to get your product moving through. Get the directory and start syncing up with Convenience Store Distributors and Convenience Store Suppliers immediately. If you are having a tough time and want the fast track to getting your product(s) into convenience stores, ask us about our Check Stand Program!