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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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/