Part 4: 5 Essential Tactics for Outbound Selling to Jewelry Buyers
The word ‘salesman’ has some of the worst connotations of any profession. It usually conjures up images of snake oil or used car lots or grease-based hair products. The fact is, though, that to run an effective business, you have to learn how to sell your brand and your product. For most of us, it’s not something that comes naturally, but implementing some basic tactics can help to get you in the habit of effective selling behaviors. You may be surprised to know that these have nothing to do with lying or over-promising, but rather, they focus on organization and thoughtful presentation.
In this fourth part of our 7-part series on Growing a Profitable Jewelry Business, we’ll walk through the considerations for an effective outreach campaign to your wholesalers and stockists. If you’ve been following along with the series to this point and are confident in your line sheet and initial list of stockists, you’re ready to move onto actually selling and making money for your business.
1. Set an Outreach Campaign Schedule
Establishing an outreach schedule is the best way to keep yourself focused and on-track in the whirlwind of various forms of contact during the outreach process. Creating this plan of attack is an important part of a consistent and well-organized strategy. Starting with your initial list of 10-15 leads to target, plan out when and how you are going to make contact with each stockist on your list.
- October 1: Send initial outreach email
- October 4: Send follow-up email
- October 10: Make follow-up call
- October 15: Make follow-up call and send email
We’ll discuss follow-up a bit more later in this article. The thing to remember here is to keep yourself accountable to the schedule. Block off time in your calendar and make sure that you follow through.
2. Create a Tracking System
When juggling interactions with 10-15 contacts at once, things can start to get a bit messy. Take five minutes to set up a simple spreadsheet in Google sheets or Excel, which includes a row for each contact and columns to capture the date of each touchpoint, the type of contact you made, whether that resulted in a response, and any action items from the response. You can download a template for a simple tracking document here.
This will allow you to keep track of whether you have emailed, called, or met up with each potential buyer. This should not only help you to stay organized, but also to get a sense of what’s working for you and what’s not. With data on your sales activity, you can speed up and optimize your sales cycle. Play around with different timing and combinations of activity to see what’s most effective for you.
3. Digital Outreach
Digital outreach is the most common way to contact prospective buyers and mostly takes the form of a cover letter-style outbound email.
This email is an incredibly limited opportunity to present your product. Expect a buyer to spend about 5-20 seconds looking at the body of the email. Because of this brief window, you want to keep the message as concise, relevant, and direct as possible.
Top takeaways for email outreach:
- Personalize each email to the specific buyer and speak to that buyer’s needs.
- Focus on pushing value that your products add to their business rather than what value they can add to yours.
- Keep the subject line of the email direct. Address what type of jewelry you make and request a response, e.g., “Response Requested: XYZ Jewelry SS 2018 (Succulents Reimagined)”
- The body of the email is your digital elevator pitch; you shouldn’t go into every little detail of your brand and product.
- 1-2 sentence brief about your brand
- 1-2 sentences about why your product should be interesting to the buyer and their customers. Consider gaps that it fills in the stockist’s current assortment or trend relevance.
- Clearly conclude with a call to action to either meet in person or have a call to discuss further
- List a few dates and times when you are available
- Attach your look book, line sheet, and a link to your website/online store
- Include 3-5 compelling product photos in the body of the email. As the buyer is likely to skim the email, good photos are arguably the most important component of the outreach email. Including the images in the email body rather than as attachments reduces the steps between opening the email and seeing your product. Composing a photo grid of several images can be a good approach to this presentation.
Number 4: Physical Outreach
Physical outreach is generally a more effective selling method than email outreach, although it can involve more investment from a time and/or resource perspective. Sometimes that investment may be worth it for accelerating your sales cycle with a particular prospect. This type of outreach usually involves meeting buyers in person to present physical product samples or sending a mailer including physical versions of your digital outreach assets.
Meeting a buyer in person has the obvious advantages that you have a chance to talk about your product, answer questions in real time, do some true selling, and initiate a personal connection with the person on the other end.
Physical mailing, on the other hand, can be an interesting middle ground between email and a direct meet-up. Keep in mind is visual presentation – the packaging you use is your first marketing impression to the buyers. Make sure to make them curious enough to open the package and explore further. While you can just include the essential documents (cover letter, look book, line sheet), this is also an opportunity to send physical samples to stockists. Physical samples allow the buyer to actually take the time to engage with the product beyond pictures. As this can be expensive, make sure that the potential revenue/branding opportunity would really be worth the money you would be investing. Generally, you’ll want to use physical mailing of samples for only the top stores that you are targeting.
Number 5: Follow-up
You send out your initial email or letter, you don’t hear back from the buyer, and you decide that they must not have liked what they saw. While this is could be true, it’s also possible that vacation, a busy day, or countless other distractions kept them from writing back. Lack of follow-up is one of the biggest causes for lost sales. It’s driven by the feeling that you don’t want to bug the other person, or that you’re embarrassed to reach out again when they haven’t been responding to you. Until you hear the answer “no” you really don’t know for sure.
Persistent and direct follow-up is essential for selling your product. This can feel uncomfortable, it can feel like you’re being annoying, but push through those feelings and just do it. If you truly feel that your product could be useful and of value to the stockist, convince them why you feel that way. Persistence pays off.
Stay tuned for the next part of our series, where we’ll walk through the basics of effective entrepreneurial negotiation.
Contact us if you have any questions on growing your jewelry business or have a bulk order that you’d like to scope out.
About the authors:
Ross Keong is a Strategic Sales Manager specializing in growth development for B2B users in the industries of jewelry, fashion, art, and design.
Virginia Gordon is the US Jewelry Community Manager, helping designers build a successful jewelry business using Shapeways and 3D printing