Pitching to Retailers via Email. A Necessary Evil?

I believe so strongly in the power of face-to-face meetings that for over a decade I’ve been commuting around the globe to meet with my clients.

Unfortunately though Category Managers are bloody busy people and sometimes it can be hard to get a spot in their diary. If you’ve exhausted every other way of trying to get a meeting, here are some tips to craft a persuasive email.

Tip #1 Never to be Forgotten:

Do not send the same email pitch to multiple retailers. Ever. Each email pitch needs to speak to the specific retailer you are pitching to (apologies for the tongue twister).

Include a very quick intro briefly outlining who you are and where you are from. Do. Not. Waffle.

If you know someone in common, or if someone has referred you, throw their name in the mix up-front. This will help to get the Category Manager’s attention (as long as the name you are dropping is held in high regard!).

Outline the opportunity you are presenting them with, leading with the benefit to them, and clearly state your product’s distinct selling proposition. Show how it is innovative and commercially viable.

Attach a professionally developed presentation in PDF format.  Do not use PowerPoint or Word to create the presentation. There. I said it. They suck. Wow them with something creative, including full visuals of your product. Your company, your product, your ability to service a large retailer will all be judged on the quality of this presentation.

Do not attach multiple files to an email. Doing so creates a barrier to being read.

Be concise. A short email has a much better chance of being read properly than a long one.

Understand the culture of the retailer – conservative corporate? Down-to-earth conversational? Understand their culture and tailor your language accordingly.

It can be difficult information to find but if you can understand the Category Manager’s annual review cycle you can time your approach to coincide.

Finally, give a great deal of thought to your subject header. As with a newspaper or blog headline, the subject of your email could make or break you.

Once you’ve sent off your pitch, follow up within three days. Give them a chance to read and digest your proposal, but don’t leave it so long they may have forgotten it. Remember that the point of the email pitch is to get a meeting so ensure you make it easy for them to lock in a date and a time. If you are interstate or overseas let them know that you’re happy to come to them (and then madly scramble to make it happen!).

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