Tag Archives: how to sell toys

How To Sell Toys

How To Sell Toys

For some people selling comes naturally. For others it takes hard work to develop the right skills and attributes. Effective salespeople in the toy business tend to be persuasive, not easily discouraged, are normally great networkers, tough enough to manage the hard commercial situations and tough buyers you find out there in the cutthroat world of retail and last but not least, are normally excellent at distilling down product benefits and points of difference/advantage to a quick sentence or two.

These attributes can be learnt or adopted with practise by nearly anyone. After that there a number of simple tactics which tend to help to sell more toys in an industry where there are often literally tens of thousands of competitive products to pitch against:

  1. Don’t be just another salesperson doing just another sales pitch

Unless you have the biggest most iconic toy brands, or unless your marketing spend is huge, you really don’t want to be just another salesperson doing a ‘same, same’ sales presentation. Think of it this way the buyer probably has at least dozens, if not 100 plus salespeople trying to contact them in some instances. You have got to be exceptional if you want your company and your products to get exceptional attention and action i.e. more listings for your products.

  1. Find a way to be not just another product

Retail buyers routinely review tens of thousands of products every buying cycle. Unless you have the biggest most iconic toy brands, or unless your marketing spend is huge, you really don’t want to be just another product, because many more products are not selected versus those which are chosen. There are a number of ways you can try to be not just another product – start with your competitive positioning/differentiation analysis, how is your product different or better versus all the competition? How will your products deliver a better experience for consumers? How is your product more likely to sell off the shelf/e-commerce platform versus all the others? Can you use narrative & story telling to make your product seem special, like it has huge momentum and potential? If you can’t you had better have all the attributes of a good salesperson listed in the opening paragraph above, because you’ve got a tough gig!

  1. Get the buyer to tell you why not if they won’t take your products

Experienced sales people are used to the bubble of preview season, whereby buyers tend to react positively to your products, because after all they probably are good. But then when the buyers go back to their office, something happens to dampen their enthusiasm, and you don’t end up with quite as good a set of results as you expected from the positive vibes you received. This is because the job of the buyer is to distil and dismiss products down from potentially many thousands to a more limited selection driven by shelf space/focus & other metrics. Sometimes you have good products but they just don’t make the cut. But the key is to get as much feedback as possible as to why your products were rejected in the end. Because this shows you a). where the buyer’s preferences are for future reference/exploitation b). gives you insights from expert eyes on why your products are not stacking up above your competitors c). if the buyer tells you what they are looking for, and you come back with what they asked for, there is much more chance they will take the product.

  1. Use social proof – demonstrate your success elsewhere

The concept of social proof is based on the premise that people often don’t want to be first to do something, but they will often follow the crowd when others are doing the same thing. For instance, one of our team tells a story of presenting a new product to a well-known retailer, and the buyer’s feedback being “If our competitors take the product, we will”. In many ways online reviews are the ultimate in social proof, but the same principles sometimes apply to toy buyers. The principle of social proof also applies to selling to distributors, often people don’t want to be the first person to sell your products, but if you can show them a track record of success in other countries it will help to persuade them.

  1. Be relentless in your follow up (in a non-annoying way)

The buyer is not necessarily ignoring you, it’s just that you are one of many trying to speak to them, aside from the many (often pointless!) internal meetings they will be taking part in. Here’s the reality of selling to retail buyers – unless you are a major supplier like Hasbro or Lego, whose sales teams will probably be communicating with the buying team frequently – you will actually not get much interaction or time with the buyer. You may get to present your products just once, or if you are lucky, maybe twice, and on that minimal contact your entire year’s success or failure may depend. You may even get to talk to the buyer on the phone once or twice, but you will be lucky if you get any more interaction than that. So, if you need to speak to the buyer, you need to be relentlessly persistent (in a non-annoying way) to get some of their time instead of the dozens of other smaller suppliers trying to grab some of their time. They aren’t being deliberately rude, it isn’t because they don’t like you or your products, and it isn’t some kind of conspiracy to keep you out of the toy business! It is just hard to give you much time due to the nature of the toy business, the many products and many suppliers. So, the bottom line is to be successful you need to crack on, not give up and to be relentless in a way which does not come across as annoying, psychopathic or unprofessional.


Do you need help to grow sales for your toy company? We help people from all around the world to sell more toys, both in their home markets and into export markets. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services


Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

Why Seeking Alternative Toy Distribution Is Often A Missed Opportunity For Toy Companies

Why Seeking Alternative Toy Distribution Is Often A Missed Opportunity For Toy Companies

Selling toys to retail is hard. It’s hard for one major reason – the level of competition. Spielwarenmesse, the world’s biggest toy trade show, held (normally!) every year in Nuremberg, Germany estimates that there are 1m toy products on display at that show. And that isn’t even every product that the exhibitors run. There are literally millions of toy products on sale each and every year.

What this means in practical terms is that for each and every product you want to sell, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of other products trying to get on the same retail shelves and trying to get prominence on the same e-commerce platforms. The toy business is one of the most ridiculously competitive businesses out there. Every time you preview your products to a retailer at a trade show you are fighting for attention versus literally thousands of other products they have seen.

Aside from the competition though, another major challenge is that retail buyers come to know their categories really well. They develop very fixed ideas of what works in terms of products, packaging and price points. If you have a product which sits outside there view of what toys in their category should be, then selling becomes really hard.

None of this should be news for anyone who has ever tried to sell a product to retail. But what is remarkable is how few toy companies put serious effort, resources and opportunity cost into breaking out of the shackles of the normal system of doing things. The world has changed so much, yet for many toy companies getting up to speed on Amazon & how to market & sell on social media is their primary adaptation.

One fundamental insight which we see time and time again is this – why would you spend all your time and efforts trying to be one of many products in traditional toy retail when you could try to be one of one via non-traditional outlets?

There are so many good examples of how to do this – we’ve seen companies running corporate gifts using personalised versions of classic toys & games – for instance, the board game Monopoly is offered in customised ‘special editions’ in various countries around the world. Or maybe it’s a bespoke product created specifically for a particular company, brand or organisation. It might be just selling a product with a particular theme to retailers you (& all your competitors) don’t normally sell to.

Another example of non-traditional retail is the educational sector. Although this comes with a minefield of bureaucracy and unclear purchase responsibilities, the education sector is not as price sensitive as retail. Often the person buying toys & games is also buying other forms of equipment, so they aren’t experts in the space. Moreover, they aren’t needing to buy at the best possible price so that they can make a profit, they are instead just spending a budget that is given to them, and while schools and educational organisations are often working on tight budgets, their purchase managers quite frankly lack the commercial ‘smarts’ and hard-nosed approach of retail buyers.

So, next time you come back from a retail meeting wondering why this has to be so difficult, why not try to sell into some greener and untouched pastures?


Have you listened to our PLAYING AT BUSINESS podcast? We analyse key areas of the toy and game business, we interview leading people in the business and we discuss major trends and changes across toys & games. You can listen to numerous episodes here: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

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