Well, today was technically my/our first official sales meeting. It was with a chain of pet stores in the northeast. The chain is fairly small (under 10 locations) but the locations are big (warehouses) and in important geo territories.

I went into the meeting without any expectations. After my meeting yesterday with a toy store and toy rep, I feel generally less enthusiastic about the prospect of distribution through independent retail channels. Because of this, I didn’t go in with a clear win scenario. I went in ‘open’. But, I did go in with a few broad stroke thoughts. Selling a first order (and even securing the coveted credit card – AKA cc – payment terms) was not a priority. Any order would be too small to move the needle. And, I am yet undecided on launching with independent retail distribution. Merchandising (how any inventory would be displayed in the stores) was more important that probably anything else for me (including payment terms – heck I would consider consignment terms for great merchandising).

The meeting was a 10/10. A few notes from the meeting.

  • Meeting as a sales meeting was Easy. I have been involved in selling in my prior two start-ups and sales always sucks. But, I guess a retail establishment’s job is to meet with folks like me. Their job is to sell product. So, they need product to sell. They need to find great product. The meeting was super easy to secure (I cold-called in December and asked who I should speak to about showing our new line).
  • The reception to our line was very very strong. I would say it was an 8 or 9 out of 10. The gentleman was smiling throughout much of the meeting while I showed him various items in our line. Creatively speaking, it feels I am on a good track. I’m executing well. The concept will resonate. There were a few items in our line that he thought would be blockbusters.
  • He said that Q4 was the most important. And, he estimated that 80% of any sales of our line would happen in Q4.
  • I asked him, ‘If we hit this thing out of the park, how many units could we sell in Q4 across your 5 stores?’ He thought that if we sold 200 units in Q4, he would be flabbergasted. Outside of Q4, he thought maybe a few units per store per month? (Yikes, these numbers are sounding really low to me).
  • We spoke merchandising. He could see his stores dedicating an endcap to our line. In 4 out of the 5 stores (because his 5th store really doesn’t have any space). He was open to me sharing other independent merchandising concepts. But, an endcap in 4 warehouse stores is huge. (And endcap (pic here) is the unit at the end of an aisle. It’s a super great location. Some retailers lease this space to brands.) He asked for possible consignment of inventory, I said maybe and that I hadn’t thought about details yet. With consignment, if things don’t sell, you need to pick up the unsold merchandise.