Home Depot And Lowes Are 900-Pound Gorillas.
You can refuse to sell to them, sell to them on their terms or sell to them on your terms. So, what’s it gonna be?
Big boxes know you’re addicted to their volume and use it to their advantage, often turning the manufacturers’ rep into an order taker who is afraid to rock the boat.
A Smarter Way to Deal With Big Boxes.
Sell to them on your terms. Know more about your category of products than they do. You should be the expert in your market.
The buyer doesn’t have time to explore how they can grow their business. Their focus is on lowering prices and preparing next flyer. Show the buyer how to be more successful or he will decide for himself. This should be your area of expertise.
Buyers often have blinders on and don’t see changes in the marketplace until they have happened and then they have to try to catch up. This creates an opportunity for you to be the expert. If you are his trusted expert, that’s one less thing he has to worry about.
How to Make Big Boxes Need You
1. Act like a leader – Understand the store’s need to carry choices. Now put aside your inclination to try to grow at the expense of your competitor and grow by helping the buyer grow his category, even if it means recommending how to best utilize your competitor.
2. Be the expert – Know more about the category than the buyer and your competition. Know who buys your product, when and why. Know what products are most commonly purchased at the same time as your product. Ask for access to store purchase transactions and study them to uncover regional and local differences. Identify stores that sell more or less of your product and use this information to improve your overall sales.
Sharing this powerful research with the buyer demonstrates your leadership and expertise.
3. Don’t wait for sales to happen, make them happen.
Don’t wait for customers to find you on shelves.
Bring them to you. Of the 8,000 to 10,000 customers who walk through every Lowe’s or Home Depot weekly, how many people do you estimate see your product to even think about buying it? How many sales you are missing because you are unseen? While customers usually have a specific purpose and are not just browsing, this is a great chance to sell the next project.
1. Think beyond the circular or advertising and consider a temporary display out front or on an end cap in a high traffic area outside of your aisle. Offer to develop the creative focused on the benefits of a new door in general and not specifically about your product.
2. Look for opportunities to cross promote. Identify what other products go with your product and advertise with them or tie into their promotion.
3. If you have an installed sales product, look for ways to better promote this service to customers and the salesman. Don’t assume just because they offer to sell your product on an installed basis, that they will actually do so.
4. Don’t forget DIY clinics to promote products use. Try for two per year.
5. Educate store managers and in-store people so there know what your product is and where to find it.
6. If your product is sold to pros, pay attention to the pro desk and the people who work there. Find out if they have any issues or problems with your company or product. If you have time, offer to make joint pro sales calls.
7. Get your product featured on their website with how-to videos or a tie-in social media effort.
8. Localize your efforts. Pinpoint which stores should carry and promote your products, and during which seasons.
More Ways to Become Indispensable to Big Boxes
Know your big box customers and look for opportunities to help them succeed. Help them reach younger audiences. Develop Spanish language signage and packaging. If you are exclusive to The Home Depot or Lowes, then bring them ideas to help them outsell their competitor because they carry your brand.
When I say you, I mean marketing and sales. The sales person and marketing department need to work together. Explain the problem or opportunity and ask for their recommendations. Then bring the best ideas to life.
If you find resistance from the buyer, be persistent and keep bringing them recommendations and ideas to help them, and you, be more successful.
Be the leader and the expert with your big box customer so you both benefit.
Here’s my 90-second video recap of How to Succeed With Big Boxes