Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 4

Today is all about facing some fears. My BIG plan for the day was to go around town visiting some boutiques to get a feel for what they are selling, what people are buying, and to target potential retailers. This soap I made yesterday was all about me (little blue dot) breaking out of the fears and distractions. I sit in a comfortable little place all cozy, filled with soap to make and scrubs to whip up but unless I want to become a soap hoarder, I have to break free and sell, sell, sell.

After a night of hanging out with friends I got up late, made a list of boutiques I want to visit and then, made a bird bath, read a little, watched some TV, and took a picture of this soap but did not go around town as I had planned.

I realized that I have a big fear of talking to people. My hubby and I had a really great talk about this today and I realized that I am so afraid that people won't like me that I either don't talk to them, or I am totally fake when I do. (Just a side note, my husband is the smartest person I know and he is a wonderful person to talk to for advice so I may give him cred a lot.) Ok, so I either don't talk, OR I try to make witty remarks to get a laugh, or I interrupt people to draw attention to myself, or I just talk about myself at length with no gaps. Again, that may not be the consensus that others get from me, but in my own head that is what I do. I have thought long and hard about where this behavior comes from but that is another story. So, you can imagine my mind set having to go into an already nervous situation like talking about my products or casually mentioning that I have some "product that I think would be a great fit for your store". I am a wreck! I don't think I am alone in this. I am sure most people would have fears about it.

I have regrouped and the plan is to attack it Monday when there will be better parking if I have to go back to get samples and promotional materials, and I will feel less intimidated in shops teaming with customers and employees who have more pressing things to attend to than someone trying to pimp a product.

My mantra for this task:
Just be yourself
You have awesome products
You are ok with rejection

If anyone has had and experience, good or bad, approaching retailers please share! I want to know how you did it and what fears, if any,  you may have had and how you overcame them!

6 comments:

  1. Hi Erin,

    I relate with a lot that you have been discussing here this week. I'm a BFA grad, a former painter and a recent soap maker. I really lover your soaps. They have a sort of minimalist and feminine quality that I relate to.Very artful and contemporary!

    I think you are right - most people would feel nervous about what you are doing. Lately I have been thinking a lot about networking and how it's so hard for me and many women I know. I think many women simply don't have a lot of experience with putting themselves out there in order to get something back. But we have to do it! As with most things, practice gives confidence and skill.

    Good luck with selling your soap! If I had a shop, I'd stock your soap in a heart beat :)

    Alison

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  3. Oooh!  I really like this soap.  The colors are beautiful.

    I totally feel your pain.  While I have no problem striking up a conversation with people anywhere and everywhere when I feel chatty, I always feel awkward "bothering" people to show off my own stuff.  My mother brags all over the universe about my products, and I find myself telling her to stop because I feel so weird about it.

    I like to send or drop off a postcard or brochure (sometimes a sample) with a store first, then call them on the phone to follow up to see if they are interested in meeting in person to discuss my products.  That is less intimidating.  You're are left talking about your products to people that have an initial interest.  Although, I have been pushing myself to pound the pavement. 

    I chat first while I shop around the store.  " I love your shop.  Do you get a lot of traffic?  Have you thought about stocking some bath products? I notice you don't have any but some of the other boutiques are carrying them."  Let the conversation lead your next statements.  If they don't want soap, they will let you know without you necessarily laying your stuff out for rejection (or that is your perception at least...in reality they may just not want to go in that direction).  Afterall, you could just seem like you're making conversation.  That takes the pressure off.  If they seem interested, let them know who you are and ask if they want to set up a time to meet and show them your stuff.  I definitely would not slap my stuff on the counter and start hard selling the innocent clerk.  Just chat...carry literature...brochures, biz card.

    The funny thing is, if you put yourself in their shoes you probably wouldn't be bothered at all to check out a unique product.

    Oh, and I met you in Denver...you were hanging out with Kim of Pepo Park at the soap conference who I was working with on the social media committee.  I didn't notice any awkward behavior.  You seemed very nice and down to earth.  I remember you won the best soap award and you were humble and gracious when people congratulated you, so I think it's all in your head.  Oh how we torture ourselves.

    The more you practice chatting with strangers the more comfortable you will become.  Just try it at the grocery store or something.  Old ladies are really cool with people chatting with them in the check out line.  Try to listen to them rather than think of what you will say next.  Let the conversation be natural, even if it is about the best brand of glass cleaner or who is on the cover of People.   They have books on this stuff, you know. 

    You CAN do this, Erin. 

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  4.  Thank you for the great advice Erica on the sales front and chatting with strangers in general! I agree - I have to think about whether I would want to be bothered with a sales pitch, and I absolutely would not, so I like your idea of the casual conversation and just dropping off a sample. Everyone loves free stuff with no strings attached and if I am not threatening or pushy, I may be more likely to get a call for an order! Is this Bonnie bath Erica? Hi!

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  5.  Thank you for the thoughtful response Alison! Thank you for the compliments on my soap! I agree that practice will help just like Erica was saying. Do you think that women in general have a harder time with networking and sales than men do? It is an interesting thought!

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  6. Tammy B, formerly of M&CJune 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Oh Erin, You are sooo not how you think of yourself. You are warm, friendly, and very easy to talk to.
    On the selling point, I feel exactly the way you do. I hate to think that someone felt that I was pushy, but in all honesty, if you are selling something unique (which you do) people are interested. That is a guarantee.
    One way to try to get past the dreaded sales pitch, check out stores that you think would be a great fit (which you have already done) and talk to them. Then choose one or two shops that are a little out of your comfort zone and approach them. 2 things, 1 you will already feel a bit comfortable after you have spoken to "easy" shops and 2 you may only feel defeated after one store passes (although I know that anyone who purchases from you will not pass!)
    You are doing awesome, just smile-it helps motivate you!
    Keep us posted :) tammy

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