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Need To Boost Your Business To Business Sales?

Jun 18, 2008
Do you sell a product or service best suited for use by other businesses? Are you having a hard time building your clientele? Then we have a suggestion for you. Try selling to chain stores. You'd be surprised how easy it can actually be.

The first thing you need to do is pick a suitable chain to sell to. My own experience is in selling to restaurant chains. I've sold my service to many national chains over the years but on a local level. You'd be surprised about how uncoordinated they are in spending their money collectively. Many of them are free to order items and services specifically for themselves ever though each store in the chain may need that same item or service.

This brings me to the first part of the problem. Say you identify a chain with ten stores located locally. The first thing you need to do is identify if they are considered corporate stores, that is owned by one parent company or are they franchised stores controlled by one or more seperate owners. One of my larger restaurant clients has over twenty local stores but half of them are franchises owned by another company. So I have to deal with two different companies.

The next thing you need to do is to figure out how to get in. Now assuming you have been selling your product or service to other customers successfully then you should be able to use the same approach you've been using. If you are able try to identify the store most in need of what you have to offer.

The real key to selling to certain chains is taking advantage of the fact that they don't necessarily use a system of centralized buying for their products or services. Some of the restaurant chains that I've done business with at one time had half a dozen vendors each with different pricing offering exactly the same service. Your job is to replace them.

So to do that you need to find a crack in the system. You need to find one store manager willing to give you a chance. If you can find that person and satisfy them then you have a chance to grab all the stores in that chain at least locally.

How are you going to do that? Well that's the easy part. You're going to leverage that relationship of course. Don't do it right away of course. Allow some time for your new customer to get to know you. But remember store managers all know each other at least to some degree. They meet with each other probably once a month or more. Your job is to develop that first relationship as thoroughly and quickly as possible. Don't over do it though, you wouldn't want them to think you're being pushy. But keeping long term customers is all about relationships so become an expert at them.

Once you're confident that your new customer is happy with you and you feel safe then you take the straight forward approach about the other stores. You ask about them. See what your customer knows. Are they using another product or service, are they happy with it. Wouldn't it be better if their chain only used one vendor? Ask them if they mind if you contact other stores. Can you use them as a reference? Could they mention you to the other managers in their meetings? You'd be surprised how much help existing customers can be with other stores if you have a good relationship and you take the time to ask.

Once you've landed that first store things can actually move pretty quickly as long as you're up to the task. Unless their current vendor is really good at what they do most managers will be willing to give you a shot. Even if you don't get it at first stay in contact with them. Many chain stores change managers more often than you would think. When that happens you get a new manager that has no reason to be loyal to a certain vendor. And often they don't even know who the vendor was for a particular product or service.

The simple fact is that landing one chain store can produce for you numerous leads and much easier sales compared to individual store sales that can take much more time and money to sell to. If you need a good bump in your sales efforts chain stores can be a great place to start.
About the Author
Cash Miller is an experienced entrepreneur and speaker who has spent over a decade as a small business owner. His years of experience in small business cover a variety of topics. If you are looking for more small business help please check out http://www.smallbusinessdelivered.com
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