It’s not Dragon’s Den
I’ve been seeing so many “help me” posts and cries for help on various social media business groups….it seems that sellers are feeling all eekey and worried about the NOTHS Pitch Up, and some considering whether to try at all.
The first thing to remember is, it’s NOT Dragon’s Den! There’ll be no Peter Jones asking you your P&L for the last 10 years, and no awful industrial lift to churn your stomach!
The Pitch up event is like a two-way interview, you want to know that NOTHS will support you & your business, and, they want to see your products, and be confident that they will sell. Ultimately, if your stuff sells, NOTHS make money (25% of your sales). They are investing in the right sellers (time to meet you, tech and sales support, selling space on the site, access to the huge customer base), and they are looking for longevity of sales to get a good return on their investment.
Whilst I haven’t pitched up in person for NOTHS, I have coached clients who have, and also worked with NOTHS staff to find out what they are looking for. After spending almost 25 years in the retail industry as a Senior Buyer, I have met 1000’s of sales reps and sat on the “dragon” side of the table considering products for each of the large retailers I have worked for ( some of them… Matalan, Liverpool Football Club, BBC, Home Bargains, Dunelm). I’m confident I have the top tips and keys to a successful pitch for you.
Knowing what they want is key…
Just like any meeting you’re attending, preparation is key, and knowing what NOTHS are looking for will help you with this prep work.
You will be meeting with one of their product selectors, i.e. a product buyer, and their main interest is the potential sales of the products. They are there to do a job, so try to remember that this person is a human, not a monster…. They will try and relax you, chatting and encouraging you to tell your story.
They are looking for:
A product that is unique
A product that has a story (or development of the product has)
A product that is innovative & new (no copycats)
A product that photographs well and is easily understandable to the viewer
A product that is value for money. Don’t confuse this with high priced, or expensive, that’s NOT the same thing.
They are looking for sellers who:
Are enthusiastic, real & believe in their product
Will offer great customer service and want customers to come back again
Can keep up with sales demand
Can develop more products
Don’t copy other people’s work
Read and re-read this list and use it as your tick box, does your product tick all of those boxes, do you, as a seller? If yes, then you need to ensure you get all that information across in your pitch.
It’s all in the Preparation
Silly question, but how well do you know NOTHS? How much time have you spent searching the categories, looking at similar products to yours? Have you ever bought anything on NOTHS? Do you understand the checkout process? If the answer is NO, I strongly recommend you spend 2-3 hours browsing, and buying something on NOTHS so see how the process works, what other sellers do, their communication, service levels etc
Do you know how the company started? I recommend “Shape Up Your Business” written by Sophie Cornish & Holly Tucker (NOTHS founders) as its an interesting read about the company, but also is packed full of business advice.
All this background info will mean you get a true understanding of the company, its ethos & ethics, the product categories and the customer process. It means you don’t waste any time asking these questions, and your entire pitch up slot is all about YOUR PRODUCTS,
So, you know who they are and what they are looking for, now it’s time to plan the meeting.
Where am I going?
Check the address, if it’s totally unfamiliar, check it out on google maps, find out how to get there, and aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before your time slot. Chat to the receptionist, use the loo, grab a drink of water.
What do I take with me?
You want to come across as a professional, series business person. They aren’t looking for a city slicker in a sharp trouser suit, but the appearance of you and your wares is important.
Dress smart, it’s ok to dress quirky (but not scruffy), particularly if you’re an arty seller. Pack your products in a trolley case or holdall…. no Tesco carrier bags please.
If you have a huge portfolio of products, bring along around 10-12 samples, each representing the variation of your lines. Carefully pack them to avoid damage.
If you bring several suitcases full of product, you won’t have time to show everything in detail or talk about your business – you will spend the entire time nose down in your suitcase. Also, remember that the NOTHS buyer has / will have between 40 and 60 sellers to see that day, and faced with a seller with 3 large suitcases, they will start to lose some enthusiasm… you don’t want a “no” before you’ve even pitched.
If you want to show more products, have your site and images ready to show on your iPad or laptop, or print out some good clear images of your other products.
All samples need to be the best possible samples you have. Try to bring finished items, and in correct packaging so they can see the true product.
It’s Pitch Time
Deep breaths…. Make yourself comfortable. If you are attending with a business partner / colleague, work out BEFORE the meeting who will say what. Practice your pitch beforehand. Use a notebook with some prompt points to remind you of what you need to say. You can also write down any notes / feedback you may get in the meeting.
Clearly introduce yourself and the name of your business / brand
Say how long you’ve been in business
Go on to explain what you make / sell
Tell your story – if there is an interesting story behind your product, tell it (e.g. you spotted a gap in the market, you searched for a “thingy” to help you do a task but couldn’t find anything)
Be confident, tell them why your product is a perfect fit for NOTHS (reasons could be…nothing similar on the market, growing trend, unique product, excellent value)
Then show your samples…. give the buyer some time to touch the items & have a good look, and an opportunity to test the products, smell, switch them on, try them out. …. don’t rush this important part.
Once the buyer has had a good look at the samples, then continue:
Talk about the retail price
Talk about any packaging, special features e.g. customizable, personalized, how many colours etc
Give an overview on how many you have sold / how many enquiries you’ve had or any customer research conducted (if not currently launched). Also, consider how many you can manufacture / produce in a week etc.
Briefly discuss ideas for any future products / developments
Talk about your USP, what makes you and your product so special
Do not discuss your costs or profit margins,
Get ready to answer any questions, be honest and don’t worry if you can’t answer any questions. Offer to get back to them with the answer.
Your time is up!
Well done, your made it. Was that the fastest 10 minutes of your life?
At the end of the session, thank the buyer for their time and the opportunity, leave the buyer with your business card, and a sample – everyone loves a freebie (make sure it has your branding on it).
Currently, at the end of the Pitch ups, the teams are giving immediate decisions to most pitches. Fingers crossed! If you are successful, don’t be afraid to show your joy…that’s what its all about!
If you aren’t successful, don’t despair… ask for some constructive feedback…. Write down any points / feedback given as it may be golden nuggets of information that will help you rework your products or prices and help you come back next time and be successful.
Use this format for other meetings
It wasn’t too bad, was it? Now you have done that, you can use the same format when presenting to new stockists and wholesale customers and talking to customers at trade fairs or craft fairs. You have a great product, and every time you pitch you’re building up your confidence, and getting feedback you can act upon to continually develop your product range.
Wishing you the very best of luck!
If you would like more help and support on products, sourcing, pricing or pitching, I work with small businesses just like you. I would love to hear from you.
Please email me email@example.com