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How do I follow up without being a pest?

I’ve recently been asked some interesting questions regarding follow up with buyers by some of the approximately 75 new and innovative suppliers with us in Appleton, WI to meet their buyers from Fleet Farm. The initial feedback from both buyers and suppliers was very positive. A large number have taken the first step to becoming a valuable vendor to Fleet Farm by taking advantage of our Buying Day program to get face-to-face time with their responsible buyer. Now the suppliers and the buyers are heading back to daily routines and the urgent emails and phone calls begin to take your focus away from these new opportunities. Diligent follow up is critical to turn these interesting new meetings into important new customers and these suppliers need to find a way to stay top-of-mind with the buyer while keeping things moving in a positive direction.

This is an issue that most of us face after events where new opportunities present themselves. With that in mind, here are a few tips for navigating that line between persistence and being a pest in follow-up communications.

Give the buyer a couple days before the first email. The buyer is meeting a number of potential new suppliers during this day and the emails and voice mails are still coming in from his current suppliers. It might seem like a good idea to send off a quick email right away but you’ll have a better chance that he/she will give it due attention in a day or two once they have had a chance to catch up a bit.

Don’t be shy. Buyers are busy with their current suppliers and assortments. While every buyer is different, for the most part, it’s perfectly ok to follow up a couple times a week if done correctly. The vast majority of buyers appreciate follow-up and are not irritated by this… just don’t demand and don’t follow up every day.

Lead with what is important to the buyer. Know what motivates the buyer and communicate how you are providing a tool/solution to this rather than just asking for what you want. You should leave your initial meeting knowing what about your product or offer is intriguing to the buyer. Give some thought to why this is important to buyer the buyer and how you can help with his/her job. In addition to finding new and innovative products to offer their customers, most buyers are evaluated on the margin, turns and sales per sq. ft. of their assortment. Put yourself in the buyer’s place and speak to what you can do for him/her.

Be polite. Ask if they have everything they need and offer to help rather than just pushing for an answer. This seems like a given but it’s easy to get frustrated if/when communications go silent or another sort of log jam arises. Tone in email can be in the ear of the reader and therefore tricky to convey. Just make sure you re-read every email a couple times before sending and make sure you are communicating a tone that will encourage a thoughtful and positive response.

Recap the current status of the project without pointing fingers when inquiring about next steps. This gives the buyer a chance to own the process and request anything they might need to progress to the next step. This reminder will help the buyer remember the status without having to sift back through all your communications and is a gentle reminder of what you have already provided and your interest in continuing to move forward.

Keep the message part of your emails short and to 1 max 2 points. People tend to feel the need to respond or ignore email messages quickly and many skim if the message is wordy. Use attachments to communicate more involved information, they tend to lend themselves to more time intensive tasks.

• If you are not getting a reply to emails, use that telephone thing on your phone. Buyers get loads of emails every day. You have their direct line from their business card for a reason. While email is more appropriate for the initial follow-ups, you shouldn’t be shy about contacting him/her the way our ancestors did with an actual human voice.

Steve Powell, President & CEO, Presidents Council

Daniela at Presidents Council No Comments

Where in the world is Steve?

Ontario this morning to meet with TSC Stores (not affiliated with Tractor Supply in the US). They operate 49 stores serving Canada’s farmers and rural markets.

Daniela at Presidents Council No Comments

Where in the world is Steve?

Back in Toronto this morning to introduce our supplier from Russia to a few of the merchants at Home Depot. Home Depot Canada operates over 180 big boxes in this market with annual sales around $6 Bil USD.

Daniela at Presidents Council No Comments

Where in the world is Steve?

I’m in sunny St. Jacob’s Ontario today for a couple meetings with Canada’s largest group of 1058 independent hardware dealers. Horse and buggy traffic included.

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Where in the world is Steve?

I got my dry cleaning back after my return from the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and threw it right back in my suitcase for Santiago, Chile for our Buying Day with Latin America’s leading DIY retailer SODIMAC.

Thanks to all the suppliers who made the journey with me and, from the looks of the buyers’ feedback, many of you are well on your way to securing an excellent new customer!

Daniela at Presidents Council No Comments

True Value Buying Day on March 14, 2018

True Value Buying Day
on March 14, 2018.

Registration is OPEN NOW. Please register here: www.presidentscouncil.com/shop

True Value is the second largest retailer-owned cooperative in the home improvement industry and therewith one of the world’s largest. With 13 regional distribution centers serving 4500 stores in over 60 countries and approximately 2,500 True Value Associates, True Value’s retail sales in their communities total about $5.5 billion.

-> If you are not selling to True Value this is your opportunity to meet with them!

Daniela at Presidents Council No Comments

Where in the world is Steve?

Steve and Curt drove to Toledo, OH today for another successful Buying Day with Bostwick-Braun.
Bostwick-Braun is one of the country’s largest full-service general-line distributors in the USA supplying over 1000 dealers in Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island reaching over $125 million at wholesales.

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Menards Buying Day

In spite of the grey and rainy skies outside, we had another very successful Buying Day at Menards on August 3rd, 2017.
Menards had their buyers in one room to meet with with new prospective suppliers at their headquarters in Eau Claire, Wisconsin last Thursday – our 10th successful Buying Day at Menards!

Menards is the third largest home improvement retailer in the U.S. with estimated annual sales at $8+ billion and over 270 retail stores.

Missed this great opportunity?

No problem, we will hold another Menards Buying Day in August 2018. Stay tuned for more details.

What’s happening next?

Check out our upcoming Buying Days here.

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Menards Buying Day 2017

Registration is open now!

Register HERE to meet with YOUR buyer from Menards on August 3rd, 2017.

Exclusive meetings by appointment only with Menards at their corporate headquarters in Eau Claire, WI
The entire Menards buying team will be available on Thursday, August 3, 2017 to see new products and new vendors. The meetings will take place at the Menards headquarters in Eau Claire, WI.

To find out more and guarantee YOUR individual 20 minute meeting with the appropriate buyer, simply click here.

Daniela at Presidents Council No Comments

Westlake Ace Hardware Buying Day

We want to say Thank You to all the suppliers and buyers who participated in our Westlake Ace Hardware Buying Day on May 24th, 2017. With over 55 meetings happening at Westlake Ace Hardware headquarters in Lenexa, KS we call it a success!

Westlake Hardware is a chain of 98 neighborhood hardware stores operating in 8 states across the Midwest with a sales range of $280 – $300 million. Westlake Ace Hardware operates stores in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and North Carolina.
The company was started in 1905 in Huntsville, MO, when W.I. Westlake bought part ownership in a hardware store there. The company slowly expanded over the next few decades until Westlake joined the Ace Hardware distribution network in 1959 and eventually became the largest Ace dealer in America. Westlake’s average sales floor size is about 22,000 square feet.

Missed this great opportunity?

No problem, we will hold another Westlake Ace Hardware in May 2018. Stay tuned for more details.

What’s happening next?

Check out our upcoming Buying Days here.

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True Value Buying Day

Our True Value Buying Day event on March 9th was a huge success: over 125 meetings within 3 hours! All of the merchants in one room for a 1/2 day+, meeting with potential new suppliers in pre-scheduled, 20-minutes Face-To-Face meetings. Lots of happy hand shakes where witnessed. If you haven’t participated in a Buying Day event yet, it’s time!

Check out our upcoming events here
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Where in the world is Steve?

I left south Florida on Tuesday and met our team (Julie, Daniela, Curt and Diana) in Fort Wayne, IN. for our Buying Day at Do It Best on Wednesday with 75 eager suppliers.

From there Daniela and I drove to Toledo, OH for another Buying Day with one of the country’s largest and oldest DIY distributors, Bostwick-Braun. You may notice an upgrade in photography – that would be talent, which Daniela possesses and I do not. We were greeted with friendly faces and snow flurries and introduced 30 suppliers to their buyers. I am on my way back to South Florida to change out my bag and head out Saturday for the next Hardware-related “adventure”!

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How to sell to SODIMAC Mexico & South America

We are happy to announce:
SODIMAC Mexico & South America Product Pitch Summit on Monday January 9, 2017
Presidents Council offers exclusive meetings by appointment only with SODIMAC Product Import Decision Makers during the
NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida. Exhibitors ONLY.

WHO IS SODIMAC?

SODIMAC is the largest big-box, home improvement retail chain in Latin America specialized in home improvement.
SODIMAC has over 50 years in the business and more than 20,000 employees. With a presence in Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Peru and annual sales of more than $1.5 mil., it has truly become an icon as a company. SODIMAC is part of the Falabella Group, Chile’s largest retail group and one of the largest in South America.

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Home Hardware Buying Day 2016

A special thanks to all the suppliers and buyers who attended our biannual Buying Day meetings at Home Hardware. Suppliers were able to receive first-hand feedback about the opportunities for their products from the buyer who looks after products in their category responsible for central purchasing and distribution to their network of 1100+ hardware stores across Canada.
Our next event will take place with Home Hardware’s partner in Alliance International, Do It Best Hardware in Ft. Wayne, Indiana on November 30th.
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Where in the world is Steve?

I find myself on the CANADIAN side of stunning Niagara Falls for the annual HARDLINES Conference with 150 industry professionals from Canada, the US and other markets. Speakers include Ace International, ORGILL, Lee Valley Tools and eBay Canada. Everyone is in good spirits this morning thanks to the Blue Jays victory over Cleveland last night to stay alive in the ALCS.

 

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Menards Buying Day registration – OPEN!

buyingdaybanner_menards2016_home_2518The entire Menards buying team will be available on Thursday, August 4, 2016 to see new products and new vendors. The meetings will take place their corporate headquarters in Eau Claire, WI.

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

 

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Learn more about Menards!

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Interested in selling into Menards? Come to our Menards Buying Day: August 4th 2016 – Registration will open soon.

In the meantime check out our YouTube channel and learn more  about Menards here!