Tips on Selling to Boutiques, Gift Stores, and Catalogs
by Janet Spurr
I’ve found that things I learned during more than 20 years as a sales rep for women’s accessory lines can help me sell my books, and I hope they will help you too.
• Before approaching a buyer—often the owner or the manager in a store—go to the cash register and look for a business card. Sometimes these cards have a name on them. It is always better to approach someone by name.
• Be very polite, and if the buyer is busy, ask when the best time would be for you to come back.
• Similarly, if buyers seem to be in a hurry when you’ve reached them by phone, ask if you are calling at a bad time and, if so, ask when to call back. (Catalog buyers are often easiest to reach before 9 a.m.)
• When you ask about contacting the buyer at a later time, use what’s called an alternative close, such as: Would tomorrow or Wednesday be better to stop by (or call)?
• Never try to see a buyer on a Saturday or a holiday or during a sale.
• If you find it difficult to get in touch with a buyer, ask the person who answers the phone what’s the best day and/or time to reach that person.
• If you still can’t make contact, send the buyer a flyer or postcard about your book and follow up every week until you do get in touch.
• Don’t let more than five to eight days pass between the time you mail something and your followup.
• If the flyer and the follow-up calls don’t do it, try to get the buyer’s email address.
• Ask to do a program at a buyer’s store; or, if the buyer isn’t interested, ask for suggestions about stores that would be interested in your book.
Good luck. When you’re polite and considerate, it can pay off to keep trying and keep following up, especially with buyers for catalogs and multiple stores. It took me 14 months to make contact with a buyer who turned out to be one of my best clients.
Janet Spurr’s book, Beach Chair Diaries, will be published this spring by Falmouth Heights Books in Marblehead, MA.