Just signed up and itching to post (smile). Read through the various replies and they all give valuable advice. Often, I might take the two call approach and by phone. First call I would indicate that I wanted to send some information to the person who makes decsions about "x". "Who would that be please?" Rarely will you not get the name. Step 2 is to call and ask for that person by name. Also, I am always very upfront about who I am and who I am with. Nothing says "salesman" like trying to avoid identifying yourself and going through the dodging and evading that comes when you only give partial info. In some cases you might also try "I`d like to speak to the person who makes the decisions about "x". Would that be you?" Most often, if it is the gatekeeper, they will not assume that responsibility and will connect you with the person you need or at least give you the name. As an added benefit, they are flattered that you would think that they have that authority. Somebody already mentioned this but I will reiterate and expand. Decision makers work early, work late, and work during lunch when gate keepers are not around. That is a good time to call. Or, how about asking for someone other than the person you want to speak with but can get to who is not as well seasoned as the "gatekeeper" in blocking you out. A sales person is always good. They should be easy to get to and can relate to the trials and tribulations that you are going through to get to the "M.A.N." (money, authority, need) (smile). Good luck!
You are very welcome and I am excited to be a part of the community. Lord knows, I need all the help I can get (smile). I`ll leave you with this.....gatekeepers are used to, by the nature of the position, taking direction. Whenever possible, it is important for you to control the conversation. Often, requesting that they take action at the end of your statement such as "I need to speak to the person in charge of "X" who would that be please", is an example of giving that direction as is "Could you connect me please". Gate keepers, got to love them (smile). But, as I like to say, never get between a dog and his bone (smile).
OK. First the disclaimer. I`ve been selling for over 30 years but am woefully inept with marketing (smile). Still, it would seem that sales advice is what you seek (smile).
1. The goal of your call should be to get an appt. with the "buyer". That`s it. If they say "tell me over the phone or send me something", I would reply "well, I could do that but I`m honestly not even sure if I have something that you would want at this point. Firteen minutes of getting to know you and your store, in person, would answer those questions. Would next Tuesday at "X" work for you?"
2. Before you go out you have some prep to do. Ask yourself: why would people want to put my goodies on their shelfs? What makes them different? What kinds of services can I offer the buyer to make their jobs easier and, we are allowed to say this right, gasp! more profitable (smile).
3. Attitude. Karen, it is ok that you are in business to make money. It really is (smile). Heck, if you give them the baskets, at least one of you will starve (smile). People will respect that. That being said, I would share your story about your son and your personal interest in Ronald McDonald House. We have one here in Boise and they are a wonderful service to families. And, I would tell them just as you told me that, while you can not give them away as much as you would like to, you have priced them substantially less typical because you want to help out as best you can. And, that they will sell and here is why. Now, I am ass/u/ming you are giving them a swinging deal here. If the salesdude has a cardinal rule it is to never misrepresent anything to a customer.
4. Understand why they buy and how they buy. I`m guessing that profits from the gift shop go back into the Ronald McDonald House. Why do they carry the lines that they currently have? What do they feel is missing either in product or in services from their vendors. You could ask them the "magic ball" question: If you could describe the perfect product and the perfect vendor, how would that read?"
5. Finally, it is listening more than talking. Two eyes, two ears, one mouth (smile). It is asking questions that are open ended that encourages them to talk about themselves and things important to them. It is genuinely caring and they recognize that. It is not about jumping in and giving your pitch before you have any idea if, in fact, you have anything that they might want (smile). Me, I flat out tell people that and they also are very well aware of what I am there for.
Geez, I apologize. I have a tendancy to ramble. But I am very passionate about selling. Beats being a.....no....better not say that (smile). Don;t want to hurt anybody`s feelers (smile)
Here`s a great book for you. "Relationship Selling" by Jim Cathcart. Came out in 1990 and talks about principles that have been around forever (Sales 101) and puts an interesting spin on some key areas in dealing with people. Gives a less clinical approach to the works of John Geier who put a less clinical spin on works by Jung. Easy read. Plain language. Relatively short. And, what I really liked....it has pictures (smile)!
You get what you pay for. It`s kind of like "free advice" (smile). Really, if you get something for free (as in a gift basket) and it does not sell so you make no profit......is it a better deal than a gift basket that I buy for $10 and sell for $20? And, I can buy and sell more of them (smile). Because...... I have a motivated supplier who is still in business because I allow them to make a "fair profit" (smile)