Last post I talked about selling to clients. This post will be about selling to vendors.
Much of what I said previously about selling to clients would also be my view on selling to vendors.
Instead of repeating the same lessons I'll summarize my position so look for those bold highlights below.
For vendors, begin at a networking event by getting to know 1 or 2 people. Follow up with them with a note if you want to get to know them better. Grab lunch. Exchange emails. Send your promotional items to them (and ask if it is okay first). There are so many ways to build rapport. Trust me, if you have a product to sell to vendors, it's even more critical to build a foundation.
|There's my buddy, Marian of Savage Rose meeting the great David Beahm at Wedding 360.|
Treat vendors in the same way as you would your clients with strong and professional communications. I'm a vendor and I love getting a hard written note. I'm impressed by that just as clients would be impressed that you showed you care.
Be not afraid to share your new ventures. In fact, before I invest in a new product that I want to sell, I sometimes ask a few key vendors would they ever pay for so and so services from me. Pre testing new product on vendors is a great way to see if your new product would be worth the time to invest in. And should you launch or add that product, you already have a few vendors who know about your new venture.
|Courtesy of Jackie's Flowers. Open House at La Tavola|
To make sure that you have the tools to sell to vendors, make sure your marketing and promotion items are top notch and not dated. I absolutely dislike getting an announcement that looks outdated. Most people cannot help but use mass mailings but I find them boring. I would find a unique way to show off your product or service. Let me share an example: I love how La Tavola had these mini launch parties for their new 2012 collection. They threw several open houses and announced it to all wedding professionals in the area. I love this approach. Using an open house is a non pushy way of selling their products. With a little wine, food, it creates atmosphere which I love. You don't feel like you are being marketed to even though you are.
|More from Jackei's Flowers of La Tavola's open house.|
Most important --- Work on building a legendary reputation. I find that when you work and focus on being known for something, others will see it. Vendors will see it. And when a vendor sees your difference, they will tell other vendors. That is how a reputation starts. It's so much easier to sell something to a vendor when they know what you stand for.
Recently I paid for a vendor listing/link on a wedding site/blog. They merely asked me, gave me the facts, told me why they wanted me to be on their list. It was a very short and exclusive list of vendors. I knew the site by reputation. I knew what the wedding site stood for and enjoyed the content which was aligned with my mission statement of being modern, American, classic in style and function. I had no issues at all. The price was more than fair for what I perceived was their product and I bought into it without hesitation. They simply let their reputation sell itself.
Also, they asked nicely. And when I said yes, they followed up and made the closing so easy. I love easy! I love straightforward.
In comparison, another very good blog/website also asked me to buy into an ad for their upcoming wedding issue. When I said I would think about it and get back to them, I didn't expect them to aggressively follow up to the point that they made me feel bad. It's best not to make anyone feel bad. Sending emails saying that people are going to miss out seems desperate as well as over promising. It's easy to see how things can turn wrong in this situation so it's best to use good and sound judgment. When working with vendors, try to be positive. Create a positive energy.
|Courtesy of Augie Chang. Great energy at this Classic Open House. Everyone left feeling up beat!|
Finally: Be patient. Be courteous. It's all about respecting others. A no today could mean a yes tomorrow.