Part One: The Preparation Phase
Adequate preparation is the key to success. An Olympic athlete has to practice long hours for several years before reaching the apex of performance in his or her particular sport. Salesmanship is much like a sport, incredibly fun and easy to pick up, but it can take you a lifetime to master. However, The rewards that stem from the practice and long hours can be just as fulfilling.
The AIM Business model provides you with everything you need to create, design and personalize your own business. It’s a unique and creative opportunity to master the art of salesmanship, create your own team in the form of your downline and produce direct results from the fruits of your labor.
But no one masters a skill without help, and this “The Approaching Small Businesses Guide” is designed to help AIM Members take full advantage of the updated Membership Agreement that allows Members to sell products to, through or in small retail outlets like CrossFit gyms, spas, health food stores, yoga studios, salons and doctors’ offices.
1. Create a List of Retail Stores and Gyms
The first step is an easy one. Simply flip through your phone book or find a map on the Internet and choose prospective businesses that you may want to approach. If you live in a large town, pick a specific neighborhood and scan the retail environment for small, independent businesses that may be receptive to carrying new products. According to the Membership Agreement, you can only approach independent non-chain, non-mass retail businesses, and no big box stores. (It is unlikely that the manager of a big box store makes the decision on which products the store carries anyway).
2. Develop and Tailor a Retail Pitch Plan
This is the most important part. If you are not making sales, your pitch plan is probably part of the problem. The pitch plan is at the very heart of becoming a master salesperson. The better and more flexible your pitch plan, the easier you’ll find it to make sales. There is no shame in getting a rejection. Every rejection is simply an opportunity to edit, remake and strengthen your pitch plan.
Here are the fundamentals of a good pitch plan.
- Develop a pitch that can fit into a single sentence and can be extrapolated upon when required.
- Begin a story that makes the prospective client want to hear more.
- Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Are you good at explaining scientific studies? Are you knowledgeable about fitness? If so, you might want to lead with that. If you aren’t good at explanations, but ooze charisma, stay away from the science and go for a personal approach and personal stories. Knowing who you are and where your strengths lie should be the foundation of your pitch plan.
- Get a feel for your audience. Before you pitch your business proposition, you may want to talk with retail business owners to see what kinds of concerns and interests they have. Then target those specific concerns and interests.
- Make your pitch variable in order to sell different products to different businesses. What works in a gymnasium is unlikely to work in a spa or chiropractor’s office.
3. The Subject of Money
In all likelihood, the subject of money may be your biggest stumbling block because retailers want to make a certain profit margin on every product that they buy, usually around 50%. That may be difficult to negotiate because the network-marketing model doesn’t gel naturally with the retail model. However, there are a few simple workarounds that can facilitate more successful negotiations.
- Always order at a 10% discount.
- Sign up for an Automatic Monthly Reorder for up to a 10% discount.
- Order every month to keep your points growing in order to reach the next promotion.
- Make director level as fast as possible to achieve the 18% commission level.
- AIM has a 90-day plan that can help you achieve this goal.
- With a combination of volume discounts and the retail differential, it is possible to achieve around a 40% profit margin with which to talk serious business with retail store owners.
4. How to Broach the Subject of a Network-Marketing Business
Unfortunately, the terms network marketing and multi-level marketing have been given bad raps. The AIM Companies has been in business for over thirty years because we work hard to create great products and form honest and lasting relationships with our sales associates. A large portion of our Membership has been in partnership with us for several decades. But outsiders don’t know that!
At the worst, a store owner will unfairly associate MLMs with pyramid or get-rich-quick schemes. At best, they already participate in a direct-sales organization. You have no way of knowing what they think, but you don’t have to lead with the networking-marketing angle. All you have to say is that you represent The AIM Companies or Red Rush.
The Red Rush/AIM Companies Marketing Split
We decided to market Red Rush separately to entice and attract a younger demographic. We did this in hopes that our Membership could benefit from having a subset of products that target a younger audience and that were marketed specifically to them. This way, when you enter a business, you can decide which angle you’d like to use: The AIM Companies angle or the Red Rush angle.
5. UPC Codes
Another major stumbling block may be the lack of UPC codes on our products. The only two products that currently have UPC codes are Red Rush and ProPeas. Some businesses might be able to sell products without UPC codes or will be able to create SKUs for these products in-store. You’ll have to ask.
6. Pitch the Unique Products First
AIM’s survived for over thirty years because we make high-quality products and take the time to explain the benefits and applications to people who are looking for something different. Retail stores sell through volume to people who feel that quality is less important than price. There are a ton of green juices on the market, none of which match the quality and consistency of BarleyLife. But without a Member to stand near a shelf of retail-priced BarleyLife and explain what makes it great, it’s just going to look expensive next to the cut-rate-milled-grass-clipping brands. That’s why we suggest pitching our unique products first.Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door, you’ll be able to explain the wonders of BarleyLife and Herbal Fiberblend to your retail client. And they can turn around and explain why our core products are so wonderful. Until then, it might be beneficial to pitch products that have no cut-rate counterparts in retail stores. Red Rush, Para 90, Mag-nificence, Peak Endurance and Bear Paw Garlic are ideal candidates to lead the charge.
7. Satisfaction Guarantee
All consumable AIM products have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you or your customer is unhappy with a product, you may return it within 30 days of purchase. We stand by that. Tell them.
8. Dress for Success
This is a fairly obvious tip, but one that should be stated just in case. Dress like a professional. Don’t walk into a health food store in a ragged Van Halen T-shirt and jeans. Wear flattering, well-made business clothes.
GETTING YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR
9. You Are An Associate
Introduce yourself as an associate or sales associate of The AIM Companies or of any particular brand that we make: Red Rush, BarleyLife, etc.
10. Getting Past the Gatekeeper
The great thing about small businesses is that there are fewer gatekeepers standing between you and the owners than, say, a large corporation. But there will always be gatekeepers. These can be the cashiers at a health food store or the trainers at a local gym. You will have to maneuver around these folk in order to speak to the person in charge. Sometimes, it will be easy. (I used to work at a small retail shop and the owner loved it when people came in to peddle things.) Or the owner may strictly forbid soliciting in his shop. Don’t worry; there is a workaround for that, too.
11. Reaching out to the Gatekeeper
One of the simplest ways of getting past the gatekeeper is by making the gatekeeper your ally. If you dismiss the gatekeeper as someone who is simply an obstacle, well, that’s just not a nice way to treat another human being. Make honest conversation with the gatekeeper. Let them try some free samples. Maybe, you can sign them up as a Member and let them sell to their boss. Don’t dismiss someone just because they aren’t the owner of a store. Gatekeepers have feelings, too.
12. Craft a Laser Pitch
We talked about this earlier, but you’re going to want to tailor a pitch that’s about four sentences in length to target each specific type of retail business that you’ll be visiting, something that will entice your listener, so they’ll listen longer.
“What if I told you that you could run faster and farther and all you had to do was consume the juice of an ordinary garden vegetable?”
“I see you guys carry Gatorade. Did you know that there’s another sports drink on the market that contains everything that Gatorade has, more electrolytes, can replenish ATP and has significantly less sugar?”
13. Tell a Brief Story
Once you’ve set the hook, and they’re interested in your pitch. Tell a brief story about the product. You’ll need to make sure the story is interesting, brief and told well. All stories have a beginning, middle and end. There should be an overall point to the story.
14. Provide Samples
If you owned a store, what would you want to sell in it? You probably wouldn’t want to sell things you didn’t enjoy. If a store owner likes a product, he or she is more likely to carry it. Providing the owner with some samples may be the key to getting him or her to sell the product in their own store. Also, he or she will be more likely to recommend it which means more sales.
15. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
We all want to make a sale. It’s the best part of selling stuff. However, being a good salesperson is being able to enjoy the dance between you and a client. Try for a sale too fast, and you’ll come off needy or desperate, but you can never be too slow. Remember, like with the gatekeeper, the business owner is a person with feelings and needs. Build a relationship based on trust, not on turning a quick profit.
16. Business Lunch
If the store has a No Soliciting sign posted on its door, it’s best to honor the wishes of the proprietor. However, asking local business owners out to a tax-deductible business lunch is completely acceptable. They get free food and you get a thankful audience.
17. Constant Contact
When you build trust and a relationship with someone, it’s best to keep that relationship alive, even if the store owner doesn’t want to carry product. Opportunity is about being in the right place at the right time. If you take the time to stop by a store, send an email every now and then or leave other gentle reminders of your existence and the products that you provide, it will benefit you. One day, you may be in a position to fill a retail need. The owner may find a client looking for beet juice, vegan protein or a really good fiber product for cleanses. We have those. Don’t be a spammer. Send out a monthly mailer with some news and product information. Make steady use of our Custom Print and Advertising Centers.
Some businesses may allow you to sell your products on consignment. This allows businesses to carry your product, make a small percentage of the profits without taking the risk of buying wholesale. However, if the product sells and the businesses see that they can make money on it, then they will probably want to carry it themselves.
19. Local Trade Shows and Chamber of Commerce
Although the larger trade shows probably aren’t worth the money, the smaller, local ones are a great way to introduce the products to local business owners. It’s also a great place to make connections.
This guide was written with input from Keith Duff