Finding wholesale customers can be a real challenge. Especially if you are only just starting out with your wholesale program but even when you are established and trying to hit recruitment goals.
And there’s not really much information out there online that goes in-depth on practical things that you can do to generate lists of potential wholesale customers to approach.
Unfortunately, there’s no real “shortcut” or “growth hack” where you’ll end up crushed by applications to your wholesale program.
In 99% of cases, it starts with putting your wholesale recruitment landing page out into the world, driving relevant traffic to it, followed by a whole heap of hard work.
So today, I want to get more advanced and show you some actual tactics for finding the right people to approach.
This isn’t so much about the recruitment process itself, but more about building up that list of prospective wholesale customers that would be a good match for your wholesale business.
So without further ado, here are 5 advanced tactics that you can use to scrape together a list of highly relevant prospective wholesale customers.
Tactic #1: Check Out Your Competition
You can use the following tactic to leverage your competitor’s hard work and give yourself a leg up when creating your wholesale customer prospects list.
Often your competitors will publish a list of their “vendors”, “retail partners” or “stockists” on their website.
Or sometimes they’ll have a page titled “where you can find us”, “where to buy”, “store locator” or “find a store” which will have a search feature.
The lists on these pages are basically a blueprint to who you could approach to become wholesale customers of your business as well.
Compile a list of your competitors and use the following Google tip to speed up the searching:
Simply Google: site:yourcompetitorwebsitehere.com “vendors” OR “stockists” OR “retail partners” OR “where to buy” OR “where to find us” OR “find a store” OR “store locator”
You might be thinking “Isn’t this a bit shady?”… absolutely not. Think of it as playing catch up to your competition.
Tactic #2: Identify Complementary Products
Imagine your product was up on a shelf in a store.
Now imagine you were the store owner. What other products can you think of that you would think would be good to place nearby?
For example, if you sell a new kind of mop. Perhaps the store owner would place floor cleaner, buckets, microfiber cleaning towels, dusters, and other cleaning products in the same section.
Can you think of the names of any of those products? If so, look them up and repeat tactic #1 to find out what stores stock those products and add them to your list.
Tactic #3: Focus On Geography
If you already have certain kinds of retail stores in mind, you may find that it’s simply a matter of conquering area by area.
Google maps can be a great help here. For example, if you wanted to break down a state into sections, you can search using the “near” keyword and Google is smart enough to know what you mean.
Make a map of your state or country with specific areas and cities to target using the “near” keyword search. Then make a list of the Google Places/Maps results showing stores that fit the profile.
Once you get the process sorted, outsource it to someone else and have them compile the results into a spreadsheet with the contact information you need.
Tactic #4: Comb Through Tradeshow Exhibitor Lists
Tradeshows are great, but damn they’re expensive!
Even just to attend you’re probably looking at hundreds of dollars. If you’re are on a budget then this next tactic will be the next best thing to attending.
Fortunately for us, we are living in the information age and most tradeshows these days publish a list of all the exhibitors that are paying to be there.
First, make a list of all the national tradeshows that your ideal retail customers, the end-users of your products, would attend to find new and exciting products.
Next, go one level deeper and repeat the same process with a more local, state or county level focus. Find smaller tradeshows that are happening that you can also scrape the exhibitor lists of.
Often the national shows will attract the really big exhibitors, these may or may not be your target wholesale customers. The smaller shows might attract smaller companies but these folks may still become great wholesale partners.
Tactic #5: LinkedIn Arbitrage
LinkedIn is basically a list of everyone who has a job and wants to tell the world what they do.
And the best part of it is that it’s searchable!
You can actually get quite specific and target the exact right person in the company that will be most receptive to your message. Knowing this information makes your cold emails and phone calls stand out from the rest.
Imagine targeting a company and knowing the name of the exact person you want to talk to. You can immediately get past any gatekeepers and secretaries that would otherwise toss you aside.
This tactic, as you can probably guess, is best used in conjunction with the others when you know the name of the company you want to talk to.
- Go to LinkedIn and search for the company
- If they have a company profile, click on it
- Click the employees and, if there’s a lot, do a search based on their job title. In most cases, you can just scroll their employees’ list and find the right person.
So there you have it, 5 advanced tactics you probably won’t get elsewhere on the internet for finding wholesale customers.
I’m not going to lie, finding quality wholesale customers is hard. But doing it without a plan is harder.
Find the tactic that works for you, test it out and make adjustments along the way. Best of luck!
Check out this article for more in-depth thoughts on making a wholesale marketing plan.