Wholesale Sales Rep Gives Tips on Selling to Gift Shops

After working as a independent gift sales representative for over eight years, selling wholesale gift products to retail store buyers, I find so many crafters and producers with great gift products who need help getting their items ready for the market. Selling wholesale is very different from selling at craft fairs and farmers markets. But it is not the overwhelming task you might think it is! It is my desire to share some of the things I have learned over the years to help new producers who are looking to enter the wholesale gift market. In this article, you will learn some simple steps to making a sales presentations. If you find this interesting and helpful, you can check out my blog, Selling to Gift Shops, to find more tips and information.

An overview

There are many aspects to selling wholesale: how to price products; how to approach gift buyers; what terms and conditions buyers expect; and so much more. Here I will be giving a few tips to the “newbies” who are just getting their feet wet in the wholesale marketing arena.

Materials you’ll need

Believe it or not, there is not many materials you need to make a good presentation to a gift buyer. The only items you REALLY need is a good sample or two of your product(s) and a wholesale price sheet or order form that includes terms and your contact information. Of course, you will need the confidence to get out there and be proud of your product! With a few steps to prepare you for what you can expect at your presentation that I will outline here, will help you on your way to developing the confidence you need!

The Sales Call

There are as many different ways to make a sales call as there are sales people in the field. Everyone uses their own system, but after many years as a sales rep, I found the following system to work best to facilitate sales to gift stores.


The first time you enter a potential retail store account spend time studying the store and the products they currently have on their shelves. Do they inventory products that are similar to your products? Look at their various displays of gift products. Will your price point fit into their current merchandising scheme? The information you glean from observing and talking to the employees will give you insight as to which of your products will sell best in the store. But remember to be considerate of the customers visiting the store and do not interrupt a clerk with questions if they are busy assisting customers. Customers come first!


Once you think you have familiarized yourself with the products and store image, it is time to talk to the buyer or manager. If you feel nervous, remember that even the best sales people are nervous on their first sales calls! Think of every potential store buyer as your potential friend. If you are friendly and pleasant, they are more likely to take the time to talk with you.

With all the hundreds of stores I have visited, I don’t recall a time when meeting a potential buyer turned out to be an instant rejection. Buyers are more curious about you and what products you have to offer. If you are excited about your products, your enthusiasm shows in your attitude and will spark their interests enough to want to talk with you.

If you are in a larger store where the buyer and Women’s Jeans and Pants manager are two different people, introduce yourself to the manager first. Making yourself and your purpose known to the manager before you start your sales presentation, often facilitate the managers and the buyer’s time during your visit. The manager may be the one to place any initial store orders before turning the buying over to another person. Also, if the manager does not place the product orders, having him introduce you to the buyer gives more clout to your presence and presentation.

A good way to engage the buyer in conversing with you is to ask them about their particular store. Ask open-ended questions – ones that cannot be answered with a simply yes or no — to start a conversation with the buyer, and learn more about the store. Listening to your buyer’s answers to these questions will often aid you in building rapport and trust and help you gather information that will be helpful when leading into your sales presentation. Your purpose is NOT just to sell your products, but to help your buyers see your products as a way to solve their sales problems and to make it easy for them to get your products into their store!


If you are fortunate enough to interest a buyer on the first visit, you have your foot in the door! But rather than going directly into your sales pitch, spend time working on developing a relationship as listed above. You need to sell YOURSELF first, before you can sell your products. The most important technique during any successful sales call is to LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN! By listening effectively, a buyer will tell you what they need to buy for their store even before you show them your products.

Once you have starting building your relationship with the buyer, it is time to introduce your product. Hand the buyer your item, gift or gourmet foods. If the buyer holds the product in their hand, they will begin to take ownership of the item. A subtle, but important point! Tell the buyer briefly about your product and then wait for their response. Answer any questions or concerns. If the buyer seems uninterested, ask them what you could do to your product to make it more appealing to them. Should you lose the sales, at least you will have gained some valuable information.

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