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” – 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 tactical. I want to show you some way your can spy on your competitors to find new wholesale prospects 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. And the great thing is, we’ll be leveraging your competitor’s success and hard work.
It’s kind of like espionage (…but not really!)
Spy Tactic #1: Leverage your competitor’s stockists/partners pages
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:
Type In 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. This is just you playing catch up to your competition.
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Spy Tactic #2: Identify Complementary Products
Imagine your product was up on a shelf in a store.
Now imagine you were the actual retail store owner – what competing or complementary products can you think of that you would think would be good to place nearby to this? What would customers be likely to buy in addition to yours?
For example, if you sell a new kind of mop. Perhaps the store owner would place floor cleaner, buckets, microfibre 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.
Spy Tactic #3: Focus On Geography (And Leverage Google Local Results)
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.
Spy Tactic #4: Comb Through Tradeshow Exhibitor Lists
Tradeshows are great, but damn they’re expensive if you’re an exhibitor!
Even just to attend you’re probably looking at hundreds of dollars. But being an exhibitor literally costs thousands just for the booth, then you need to spend probably just as much again to make your set up look professional.
It’s a great way to waste money in my opinion. Why not just do the next best thing and get the benefits without the spend?
Fortunately for us, we are living in the information age.
Most tradeshows love to talk about all the amazing exhibitors they have recruited to be there.
Make a list of all the national tradeshows that your competitors and adjacent product makers would attend.
If you run out of national tradeshows, go one level deeper and repeat the same process with a more local, state or county level focus.
Smaller tradeshows are even more likely to publish their exhibitor lists because they want to show off who is there and luckily for us, the smaller shows attract smaller companies who could either become great wholesale partners themselves or would be more likely to publish a list of stockists on their website.
In this way, we’re looking to find more companies to feed into our spy system and repeat Spy Tactic #1 and #2.
Spy 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, five advanced spy tactics that will turn you into a private eye, but most importantly will lead you to little rivers of wholesale customers that you probably couldn’t get access to elsewhere.
I’m not going to lie, finding quality wholesale customers is hard. But doing it without a plan is harder. I hope these spy tactics have helped give you something actionable to do.
Check out this article for more in-depth thoughts on making a wholesale marketing plan.