Don’t Make Me Do All the Work

Josie Leavitt -- April 28th, 2014

The struggle of any small business is to get other small businesses to buy their products. Bookstore owners are besieged daily with people who think their sidelines would be just perfect for the store. I have to admit, I have become somewhat cranky about these solicitations. So, here is a list that I hope folks will find helpful in approaching bookstores to carry their products.

- Do not cold call the bookstore. I like that just a bit more than folks coming in and expecting me to stop what I’m doing and listen to their pitch. One vendor recently called and tried to pitch me posters that he thought would be a good fit here. I asked if he could email and he said, “Nope, don’t do it.” Then I inquired about the web site and was met with, “Nope, don’t have one.” So, let me understand: you expect me to buy art sight unseen based only your description of what the product looks like? Really??

- If you send an email please include all the product information. Do not send an email that mentions a website without including a link to the it. I know this is a silly point, but being able to click on a link is easy and get right to the website is far more likely to get me look at what you’re trying to sell.

- Follow up less frequently than you think you need to. If it’s been two weeks and no one has gotten in touch with you, then it’s okay to call. Then let it be. I know this is frustrating, but here’s the thing: if something catches a buyer’s eye they will deal with it fairly immediately. Calling every day (yes, this happens) is a sure-fire way to make me not want to buy your products.

- Respect my time. If I do talk with you on the phone, please listen if I’m trying to gently tell you that your silicon spatula line for children is just isn’t a good fit for us.

- Do your homework. Go to my website and see what kind of store we are. While I am not likely to need spatulas, cool 3-D bookmarks might be an excellent fit.

- Lastly, do not mail a sample unless I’ve expressed interest in your product. I don’t want you to spend the money on giving me a free sample and shipping unless it’s something I really want.

One thought on “Don’t Make Me Do All the Work

  1. Laura Melchor

    This has nothing to do with the very informative (and true) post you’ve written, but I wanted to let you know that I’m a faithful reader of the ShelfTalker blog, and now that I’ve been accepted into VCFA’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, I REALLY hope to visit your bookstore sometime in the next two years! (I live in California). Have a wonderful week!

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