Space Wars: Gaining More Shelf Space in Tobacco Retail

    How can your company gain more shelf space? A cigar salesman gives you three important questions to ask and consider of your prospects.

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    Space Wars: How to Gain More Shelf Space in Tobacco Retail

    Every manufacturer wants more space—more signage, more product merchandised, more point-of-sale (POS) displays, more events. While more space can absolutely lead to more sales, it can also lead to an endless push for the salesperson that never yields anything but lost time. Spending time chasing a real prospect is the whole game, but chasing something that, even if it works out, won’t pan out or offer real growth is a huge reason why salespeople and sales organizations can’t make their numbers.

    Ask yourself (and the account!) the following three questions:

    Do they have the space for me or the real desire to make space?
    Every salesperson selling consumer packaged goods has run into the space objection. Sometimes the account doesn’t have the space, and, even if they did make space for you, they would never be able to carry the product in a well-merchandised format that is expansive enough to really drive sales. Is the humidor full of empty stuff? Is it unclean or disorganized? Are the cigars priced, labeled and zoned properly? If your cigars were in there, looking like the rest of the humidor, would you buy them? Could you even find them? Ask yourself some of these questions to qualify whether or not this account is a time sink or a real prospect.

    Who does the account do the most business with? How about the least?
    This is a super powerful way to get a feel for what the account’s potential is. If they do the most with a distributor and the least with a boutique company, for example, maybe a better angle is going through the distributor they use. If it is a local distributor, they might be the real account to chase. If they do great business with a similarly sized company and with infrastructure that is similar to yours, they could follow that same path with you and grow quickly. You can also see how much space they’re willing to give strong sellers from the space they allocate in the humidor to different companies. If you ask them the above question and notice that they have a ton of space dedicated to a company that wasn’t among their best-sellers, that represents a great selling opportunity for you.

    What is it about your best vendor that really moves the needle for you? What has kept your worst vendor where they are?
    This tells you how the account wants to be followed up with, gives you a resource (the other company’s rep) to reach out to in order to find out the path to growth, and it will often generate an anecdote from the account that shows you something about what they care about. It also gives the account a chance to explain the kind of things that drive sales for them and create selling opportunities for you.