Getting retailers to open a shop in your city is a trying task that involves a lot of preparation. But you don't need to be a retail recruitment specialist to successfully present yourself to the retailers you're targeting. Here are five best practices to incorporate into your retail recruitment pitches.
#1: Be a People Person
You have to be able to relate to the people you’re trying to win over. Remember, they have to take into account the expenses of opening a store location, as well as ROI. They have just as many concerns about expanding and being successful as you do, so try to view the process from their perspective.
More importantly, be sure to connect with them on a personal level. If they like you, they’ll listen to you. You can build rapport by simply talking about something the person you're pitching to is interested in, such as a recent sporting event, cars, or movies.
Think of the process of getting to know the person you are speaking with as an ice breaker. Be professional, but be human, too. Personality has its merits and can lead to them remembering you as you and not just another city government official. Those first fifteen minutes will decide what they think of you and your presentation. Make it count.
#2: Research Your Audience and Show Them the Data
It’s not hard to understand that you really have to work your way into the minds of the people you’re selling your city to. You’ll need to bring several reasons for why they should open a store in your city.
It’s critical to note that you should have concrete data to back up your argument on why the retailer should open a store in your city. Use tools like Buxton's Match application to compare your proposed site to the retailer’s existing sites, dig into the demographics and psychographics (behaviors) of consumers within your community, and provide information on competition and cannibalization. When you have data, the numbers speak for themselves, and you stand out from the competition.
That said, you shouldn’t just provide reasons why they should open a store in your location--you need to research the company itself. Read up on the company’s history. How are they doing? Are they looking to open new stores? Have they been closing several stores recently? What articles about them can you find that will give you an idea about where they currently stand financially and strategically? Where do they typically open locations--in rural or urban areas? Smaller or larger communities?
#3: Be a Quick Thinker
Before the pitch, brainstorm a list of potential questions and concerns they may have, then determine your answers ahead of time. Be able to deliver a decisive answer or counterargument. If you can quickly provide them the answers they’re seeking or are able to deliver a sound counterargument, they’ll run out of things to throw at you.
Think of it as a war of attrition where you need to survive their arsenal of questions or reasons and be the one that offers more pros than their cons.
#4: Have the Ability to Adapt Your Retail Recruitment Process
There are going to be times when retailers will throw a monkey wrench into your plans or throw off your momentum to make it difficult to continue your presentation. Your ability to handle those situations will determine your level of success. For as much that can go right in your retail recruitment presentation, just as much can go wrong. If you cannot adapt to those situations you won’t last long.
Always be flexible. Don’t let one or two things throw you off or let them take your presentation apart. The quicker you can get back on track or bounce off a comment that was made to tear your presentation apart, the quicker you'll be able to minimize the damage.
#5: Be Persistent, but be Professional
Sometimes you’re not going to be able to get your foot in the door or they'll turn you down, despite your best attempts. Don’t see that as the end of it all. If they don’t want to meet with you, give them reasons to. Keep knocking until they answer, but don’t be a pest. Be tactful. Choose your words wisely and know how to pace yourself.
Failed your first attempt after meeting with them? Learn from it. What was it that turned them off? What questions did they ask? Who in the room was won over and who wasn’t? Read their body language in the meeting. Who really got the most out of the presentation and who showed little interest or kept trying to shoot you down?
Finally, always send a follow-up email saying how much you appreciated them taking the time to meet with you. Don’t sound like a robot; remember to be human. Don’t let your email look like something you just copied and pasted.
The Bottom Line
There will be times when you won’t get any traction with the retailer you’re trying to recruit. Sometimes it’s wiser to let go and move on, but only after giving it your best. Even then, don’t lose contact or burn that bridge you tried to build with them. Keep in touch. However, if you follow these five ways to be successful in your retail recruitment pitch, your chances for success will always be good.
Want to learn more about the data that will attract retailers to your community? Check out our blog about location analytics.