If you are familiar with the expression that it's not
what you know but who you know, then you
should know that this phrase is super accurate
when it comes to the wholesale industry.
Some of the best wholesale deals that I came
across, and some of the best wholesale sales
that I made, came from connections that
I developed through my wholesale business.
Imagine if you knew all the main players in
the wholesale market in which you are doing
business in. You would be exposed to opportunities
for purchasing merchandise that others might not
know about. You would also become aware of the
needs of buyers before others knew about them.
For example, you might become aware through
your network of contacts that a designer is
looking to liquidate her prior season inventory.
Or, you might be told by a retailer that he is
experiencing a demand for brand name prom dresses
and is looking to stock them in his store.
I was introduced the owner of a dress store
by a friend. The dress store owner came to my
warehouse, and while he was there he saw boxes
of silk neckties. He decided to take a chance and
purchase two boxes. And here is what happened next.
He told two of his friends, who are both wholesalers,
about the neckties. Each one of them went ahead
and also purchased boxes of neckties from me.
So as you can see, one connection can bring you more
connections, leading you to making even more sales.
But you have to take action and make these connections!
So how do you develop the type of connections
that can help you maximize your success in
the wholesale industry?
Before I give you my tips for doing so, I would
like to share with you the most important
advice that anyone can give you. And that is
that everything takes times. Sure, you might
get lucky in your first day in business. But in reality,
the more time you put into your business, the luckier you
will get. And that is true because the more time
you spend in your business, the higher your chances will
be of meeting and hearing about people who are
also involved in the wholesale trade.
Wholesale Connections Tip #1
Create a professional looking business card.
You will want a business card that is both exciting
and informative. You want your business card to spark curiosity
as well as to provide as much information as possible
about what you do. If you are a retailer that focuses
on American brand name dresses, then make that
very clear. If you purchase designer label closeouts then
you want to list that information on your card.
The key is to have a business card that appeals
to both potential customers and vendors. This way
your card can serve as a tool to help you
attract buyers and suppliers. Once prospective
customers clearly understand what you are selling
they will respond better to you. The same is true for
fashion suppliers. If suppliers clearly know what you are
looking to purchase then they will contact you
if they have the fashion that you are looking to purchase.
I make it very clear on my card exactly
what my business is about, this way
anyone that comes across my card will
instantly know what I do.
I have had customers visit my warehouse
that somehow found my card by chance
and decided that they were interested
in what I had to offer!
I have my picture on my business card since I believe
it's a good way to personalize the experience. We are all
so inundated with advertisements that its nice to see
for a change the actual people that we are doing
business with. It's completely up to you,
but I would recommend that you use your
picture as well.
You will also want to make sure to list
all of your pertinent websites, as well your
contact details on your card. I say pertinent
since you want to stay focused on one
business area. I understand that you
might be involved in different markets,
which is fine, but then you should have separate
cards for your different ventures. The exception
would be if your different commercial ventures
might appeal to the same customer or distributor.
Once you have created your business card you will
want to literally give it out to everyone that you meet.
I know that this sounds different than what you
might expect to hear. I mean if you
have a boutique selling designer handbags why would you
give out your business card to someone that clearly
is not interested in handbags? The answer
is because they might know someone that
is looking to purchase a designer handbag.
This is just my personal approach so definitely
do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
We live in a very interconnected world, which means
that each one of us knows people with interests
that are different than ours. And that means that
each one of us might know the ideal customer or supplier
for a friend or relative's business, assuming that we ourselves
aren't a prospective customer or supplier.
To make it perfectly clear, imagine that you give out your
business card to the cashier at your local supermarket. Now the
cashier might not be in the market for a $500 Coach handbag. But
they could easily have a relative or friend that is. Or if you
are a wholesaler imagine how happy you would be when the cashier
tells you that their cousin just opened a store and is need of
The reality is that you just never know who knows who, and that is
why you need to give out your card to everyone that you meet.
Wholesale Connections Tip #2
Ask for referrals.
This is a really important step to take while conducting
your business. Whether you have a children's clothing store in New York or
you import office suits to Kenya, you always want to ask customers
and vendors if they know anyone that could benefit from
doing business with you.
My closeout business has benefited from referrals in both the
buying and selling sides. Many of my customers have been referred
to my closeout warehouse by other satisfied customers. And I initially
heard about some of the
suppliers that I have purchased merchandise from people that
I have done business with.
The simplest way to approach this is to directly ask your customers
if they know anyone that would be interested in the closeout products
that you have for sale. You can ask them for an email address or
phone number and then follow up with the lead that they gave you.
Or you can give them your business card and ask them to
pass it on to their friends or relatives. I personally would
recommend offering them an incentive to refer people to your store or warehouse.
When dealing with wholesale suppliers you will want to take the
same approach. While suppliers don't generally want to send their
customers to competitors, they also want to create goodwill
and develop their own connections. So if a supplier does not
have the type of products that you are looking for, then he might
be happy to refer you to a wholesale vendor that does.
You can also offer the supplier a referral fee for putting
you in touch with a wholesale source for the type of
merchandise that you are looking for.
Wholesale Connections Tip #3
Attend wholesale trade shows.
Wholesale trade shows are a great way to connect
with both vendors and buyers. Everyone at the wholesale
show is there for one reason, and that is to do more
business. Buyers are looking for merchandise deals and
suppliers are looking to wholesale their merchandise.
I would recommend that you keep the initial conversation brief
since you want to interact with as many attendees and vendors
as possible. You can then follow up with them after the show.
The exception would be if you have the opportunity to make
a deal which is exclusively available at the show.
Wholesale Connections Tip #4
Get in touch with me!
I would love to do business with you,
as well as help you make connections
if I can.