Getting More Yesses from Wholesale Distributors

Below is the #1 most common reason I hear from wholesale distributors say they won’t sell to Amazon Sellers. I explain how to get past that rejection.

Getting more love from potential wholesale distributors is as much an art as it is a science. Follow these simple techniques to win more accounts and get on track to expand your catalog and get more opportunity. It won’t be over night, but this business is a marathon, not a sprint.

First things first, because it has to be said. Would you want to start dating someone who’s made up a whole fake “persona” just to be your significant other? Be totally blunt about your business when asked, and for the purpose of this article, that means telling a prospective supplier that you sell on Amazon. Don’t be shy, and follow that up by mentioning how much inventory you sold through in the last 12 months. Tell them you’re expanding your network of good people to work with together on common goals.

“No, we don’t sell to Amazon Sellers.”.

– Some Random Wholesale Distributor

So, after you spend all your time to finally get in touch with someone who will hear you out, and they say they won’t sell to Amazon sellers…. What should you do or say next?

I just want to preface these responses by highlighting an important detail. These are based on the assumption that you are making “cold contact” with the target supplier. What that means is you don’t know anybody there, and you have no warm introduction. It’s typically harder to get in with these companies, especially the larger more established firms. Getting a warm “in” is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say, if you have one, start there first.

And, of course… REMEMBER YOUR MANNERS. Say Please and Thank you.

We’ve had problems with Amazon Sellers in the past.

Hands down, this is the most common rejection. I 100% love this response because it’s the easiest one to manage through. Why? Because you are NOT them!

Keep in mind what typically happens in the back end when you apply to a wholesale distributor. You’ve probably signed up somehow on a website, or sent a blind email to a generic email address. Your web-form responses went into a database, and some sales rep has been routed your details and has it on their “list” to respond to. So they have read your details, probably forgot you and your company name and anything about you by the time they dial that last 10th digit on their phone or clicked send on their email. To them, that’s likely what they feel is a long shot like panning for gold.

It’s your job to help them understand that you’re the real deal, and you are not fool’s gold.

When this rejection comes up, always ask for specifics.

Act a bit surprised and say, “oh, why was that? what happened?” Let them talk. Then ask them “what are some other issues you had in the past?” You can probably get two or three before they are starting to get annoyed or looking at their watch.

Here’s where you can really turn your disadvantage into an advantage. Depending on what the issues were, you probably won’t do those things and can speak to it. The goal is to demonstrate your competence and professionalism. If you have a 95% customer review rating on Amazon, mention that. If you have solved problems collaboratively with other vendors, tell that story and how you solved a problem and weren’t the problem. Bring up examples and reasons for them to view you as a problem solver. Sometimes it’s also good to have some unrelated “goto” stories that include stories, such as how you helped a customer with a return by just refunding the issue even if it was a bad reason on the customer’s part.

Sharing stories of how you put others first with a real example. Because it’s a real thing and not just virtue signalling or illuminating a false set of expectations you are programming their subconscious about what it could be like for them to deal with YOU, since you are a good person and a problem solver that is great to do business with.

After sharing that success story, ask again if they feel that the risks of working with “that” kind of seller sounds better than the others they dealt with?

Ask again to move forward. If they still say no, then suggest if a trial basis until August 30th or January 31st would be possible (whichever comes after 6 months and less than a year from “now”). For example, it is mid-June, so I would ask for a trial account through January 31st. Why this crazy idea? Because you can tell them it’s your policy to keep your supply chain open after Amazon’s Prime Day (July) or the Christmas Holidays so that if you need to order more in case your shipments are damaged and you need to replace units you sold. That reinforces your intention to do business in a way that considers others needs, especially the end customer.

Try those tips with your next cold contact for a wholesale distributor account. You may be surprised how keeping the focus on others and less on yourself will position you as a good partner in business and will break down barriers to entry.

Good luck and happy selling everybody!

Tim McKay, MBA, GDM, B.Sc., CEO Arbinon.com, Inc.

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