5 ways to get retail buyers to open and answer your emails

One of the most common points of frustration I hear expressed by food and drinks entrepreneurs is “retail buyers never call/email me back”.

And that’s correct, even if you do everything right, sometimes you won’t be hearing back for months, if at all.

But there are ways to increase your odds of a callback and I share them below. Keep reading for 5 ways to get a response from retail buyers.

1. Make sure you address the person, not the position

Retail buyers are bombarded with emails from hundreds of brands, all competing for attention. Make sure that you give them a reason to open yours.

Before you even start writing to a buyer, make sure that you know their name and address them by it. I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many food entrepreneurs send generic emails simply addressed to “The Buyer” or with a subject line that says “Attn: Grocery Buyer”.

That’s just plain lazy and will get your mail deleted immediately.

My subject lines always include the name of the buyer, my name, and my company name. This tells the buyer that they are talking to a real person, that I have done the work learning who they are and what company I am from.

And because my subject line makes it clear that I am opening a person-to-person conversation, chances are they will get opened.

2. Tell them why they should care

In your very first sentence, you need to communicate the following:

  1. Who you are
  2. What’s your product/your company
  3. How does your product add value to their category and what consumer problem does it solve

Keep it factual and logical – this is not the time for flowery copy and sharing your personal motivation behind the product. Every food entrepreneur will be in love with their own product, but that’s not a good enough reason for a buyer to list it.

It’s time to talk like a hard-nosed sales rep, not an emotional owner.

3. Stop talking about yourself

Too many food entrepreneurs share their entire life stories in the first few paragraphs of an email to a buyer.

But the buyer doesn’t care about you. The consumer doesn’t care about you. They care about how the product you’re selling grows their category and solves their problems.

Everything you write needs to be focused on one task – help your product sell.

Think about it this way: The buyer doesn’t care about your personal journey to a gluten-free lifestyle. They care about their sales.

4. Provide data

Buyers, as I am sure you have figured out by now, are intensely data-driven.

If you have sales data available from other sources, make sure to lead with it.

“Our gluten-free chocolate bites are listed at Local Market in 15 locations and are outselling our nearest competitor by 23%”.

If you’re just starting out and don’t have any data yet, lead with the category opportunity.

“57% of Canadians have reduced their alcohol consumption in 2021. Our drinks are specifically designed to serve that growing market”.

5. Tell them what’s in it for them

Make sure you communicate:

  1. Your placement deals – a discount on their first order, often given with free product
  2. Your promotional plan – two to four periods during the year when the store can purchase your product at a discount of between 10 and 20%.

These are absolutely essential to have in place and if you don’t have them in place, the buyer will ask for them.

Shelf space in a store is finite and limited and retail buyers are responsible for the profitability of their category. By taking in your product, a buyer needs to either discontinue or reduce shelf space for another product, taking a huge risk.

Your placement deals will help to reduce that risk and give you a better chance of getting listed.

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