Welcome back to the DTC Boardroom series, where we ask our podcast guests to dive into their personal picks for the most exciting strategies and tactics to help brands WIN BIG! 🙌
Today’s guest is Chris Meade. Let’s dive in 👇
Hey everyone! Chris Meade here and I’m the cofounder of CROSSNET, the world’s first four way volleyball game.
We’re sold globally in 15 countries and 3,500 retail stores and we’ve done this all without a broker or introduction.
I get asked all the time “How do I get into wholesale?” so I wanted to take today to answer this question.
I'll start with a little disclaimer:
- This will not 100% always work
- A bad product is still a bad product
- It's all in the follow-up
- Be realistic
- If you're not interested in retail, this same strategy will work for press and partnerships
So… where do I start? 🤷♂️
👥 Step 1: Build a Linkedin profile
LinkedIn will be your greatest asset to build credibility and create an established connection to experts in your industry.
So when you start to structure your LinkedIn portfolio, take your time! Spend an entire day building out the portfolio. Then, create a bio and include links to articles and press.
Make sure to add a catchy headline with an updated profile picture. Next, update your job experiences (and. remove those rogue jobs you were only at for 4 months).
Finally, update your skills, ask for endorsements and add your education and accomplishments.
⚖️ Step 2: Evaluate your options
When I started CROSSNET, I didn't know a damn buyer at any single retail store. Hell, I didn't even know what the term "buyer" was. I was just Googling business development.
I had three options:
1️⃣ I could cold call my local Walmart and try to get connected to somebody making the decisions. I usually got put on hold for 30 minutes, just to be told to go **** myself and email their info@email.
2️⃣ Go into my local Dicks Sporting Goods and try to talk to a manager… but I used to be really nervous and not the best at selling on the spot.
3️⃣ Use my sales skills from my old software selling days and connect with every damn person I could find on LinkedIn.
I quickly found option three was the way to go! I got way more connections, got through to the decision-makers, and didn't deal with tons of bull***t in the process.
We started as a small three-person operation, and getting the most out of every day was huge. Finally closing that laptop at the EOD with a good response or a promising lead was a WIN.
Keep reading below to learn how I started connecting and shot my shot. 😎
🤝 Step 3: Start connecting
Wanna know how I found success? Follow these 4 steps to get the right people in your network!
1. Navigate to your LinkedIn search bar and search your intended store name + buyer. Then, hit connect!
2. DO NOT SEND A MESSAGE. I get hundreds of connection requests a month and almost 100% of them that come with a message are just fluff and get deleted in .2 seconds.
3. Check your 2nd connections (people in your network are connected to this person and maybe there can be a warm intro).
4. Make sure to add marketers and business development people from these companies as well. Remember when you were grinding at that boring corporate job? LinkedIn was dope because either it killed time, I was reading a great article, or I was finding a way to leave my shitty job and find a better one.
These people at these companies are doing the same. If you start liking the guy in the marketing department's post, the buyer (your end target) may end up seeing it!
On the rare occasion, you craft up a nice 100-character message to that one big shot, take your chance and write a simple message to stand out. Something as easy as this even works. I did this on Wednesday and now are team is working on a deal that’ll potentially be worth well over six figures over the next few years.
If your budget allows it, I highly suggest getting LinkedIn Business for $59.99 a month. It will give you a ton more emails and allow you to not max out so frequently on connection requests.
🚀 Step 4: Shoot your shot
As connection requests start to roll in, the worst possible thing you could do is add somebody, and then 15 seconds after they accept you hit them with a sales pitch. Nobody likes this! So don't do it.
You have a few options on how to move forward. In my world, there are typically anywhere from 5-10 buyers at a decent-sized sporting goods store. So using those numbers here is how I'd approach things.
For some easy math let's use a sample size and say you made 10 new connections at your dream retailer.
The first 4 people:
- Send them the sales pitch. Make it short, sweet, and to the point.
- DO NOT send them links, bullet points, or case studies.
- They should be able to read it in 5 seconds and quickly say yes I like this or no I do not.
The next 2 people:
- Ask for an introduction to the right person.
Here’s an example:
"Hey Ryan, I see you're the buyer in the toilet paper section so you're probably not the right contact, but I invented CROSSNET (the world's first four way volleyball game) and it's really blowing up with over 150,000 units sold. Do you mind pointing me in the right direction for the sporting goods buyer? It'd mean the world."
The last 4 people :
- Chill. Don't do anything. Let them be in your network. Engage with them. Like their stuff. Leave good comments, not just fire emojis.
- Eventually, they may either come inbound or reach out to them if the first 6 people never get back to you.
- Don't shoot all your shots at once. You may have a major breakthrough, PR moment, etc and you've already wasted all your outreach attempts.
Having your customer service team prepared is pivotal to closing deals. Check out how I managed below. 👇
👏 Step 5: Make sure your customer service team is ready
A few years ago I sent the below message to, who would eventually become, my Dick’s Sporting Goods buyer. No response.
A few days after that message on September 10th message I got a live chat inquiry that would ultimately change my life and is the huge reason why I urge any DTC brand to look for a customer service platform.
Although I don't have the thread, the message went a little like this:
"Hey this is the buyer at DICKS, is anyone there?"
I get a ding and notification on my laptop and see a new message.
"Yes, yes! How can we help you?"
"We have a purchase order for you. It's for $450,000. What's the best email to send it to?"
Lead response time is legit EVERYTHING. Getting back to your customers asap and being well equipped with the answers is ESSENTIAL.
Having that customer service platform ready and available was vital! I don't know where CROSSNET would be today if I didn't receive that message.
🔐 Step 6: Closing the Deal
So you have an interested buyer and they've asked for a follow-up. What's next?
- Overwhelm the buyer with unnecessary information
- Send them a thousand links and articles
- Send them a million paragraphs
- Ask for a 30-minute meeting
- Promise to hit crazy shipping dates and times if you do not have the inventory, you only have one chance to kick off the relationship right, don't mess it up
- Thank them for their time and response
- Send them exactly what they asked for. Don't make them ask twice
- Have a very nice sales catalog that clearly shows the product, product description, wholesale price, and the suggested retail price
- Clearly state when you have inventory arriving or when you could ship their order
- Ask for clarification on net pricing terms (you always want to get paid Net-30, but hard to do for big retailers)
- Make sure you get clarity on who's paying for shipping. Our retailers 100% always pay for shipping.
I'd love to hear back from you. Was this helpful? Anything you think I missed? I put out a weekly newsletter called CROSSED Commerce, which you can subscribe to here.
All the best,