Last week we got an interesting email from one of our makers (with a couple of details changed for confidentiality):
What should I do with a store that gave a vague response? Here's what they said:
“Your style and pieces are gorgeous and I’ll think about how to make them work in the shop. Thank you for reaching out! For now, go ahead and keep me posted with updates.”
Is that just a nice way of saying "no" or is it enough for me to follow up with them again?
And this got us thinking: How is a maker to know what means yes, what means maybe, and what really does mean no?
Store owners are busy folks just like you and don’t have too much incentive to sugar coat things. They will tell you no, yes, and maybe next time, even if it is sometimes a little unclear what is what.
So think of this post as a decoder ring for figuring out that that email you got really means -- and what to do about it.
Generally, emails from stores will fall into three categories:
- Yes! I’d like to place an order! or Send me a sample!
- No for now
Yes! I’d like to place an order! or Send me a sample!
This category is pretty simple. If a store is ready to place an order, or likes your product enough to request a sample, you have one job: make it easy for them.
We’ll talk about this more in future posts, but if a store is ready to place an order, your focus needs to be following through, fulling up, keeping the ordering process simple, and getting them what they ordered in a thoughtful way.
No for now
We’ve noticed that if your work is really not a good fit for a store, or they just happen not to like it -- they will tell you.
But, if they say some variant of “I love your work but can’t buy it now”, we think that counts as a “no for now” and you can and should follow up later.
Thank you so much for reaching out! Your work is great but We are full for the season. / We are full of (YOUR PRODUCT TYPE) for right now. / I already spent my money on (YOUR PRODUCT TYPE) for the season. / Not for now, please add me to your email list.
-- Store Owner
In this case there is only one thing to do: say thank you and schedule a followup on your calendar in a few months when they may have cleared some space on their shelves.
We would use a date for that followup of sometime in the next "season" when their buying needs may have shifted. You can circle back in a personal way with updates, new products, news, etc.
If a store takes the time to respond to you and say that your work isn’t the best fit for the store, no really does mean no -- and we do not suggest following up or adding them to your mailing list in the hopes they’ll change their mind.
This is not for us. Best of luck.
This has a ring of finality to it, as do any statements about what a store does or does not carry. Mark it in the no column and move on to the next one. Some will, some won’t, so what. You can also use this information as good input for the types of stores that may be more or less interested, moving forward.
The final thing that can happen, of course, is that you’ve reached out to a store and you simply don’t hear anything.
As we have discussed before, sometimes silence just means they are busy. That’s why we do suggest following up in a respectful, understanding, non-pushy way with stores. You owe it to both of you to understand that they’re busy, have overflowing inboxes, and may appreciate you checking in just to be sure whether they’d like to place an order, have questions, or have decided you’re not the right fit for the shop.
When you get silence from a store, don’t draw conclusions that it’s a “nice way of turning me down.” Follow up, and find out.
We think it’s important to take what stores say to you seriously -- but not to add your own concerns or “drama” to the mix. Take what they say at face value, know that they’re doing the best they can to filter a lot of information, and be willing to take the learning and move on.
By using this method you can, absolutely, get to a place where when you see a ‘no’ in your inbox it’s as good for you as if you had gotten an order. It may be hard to imagine but you can train yourself to do this. In fact the businesses that we work with that succeed are successful only in that they have trained themselves to think this way when they open their inbox.
Oh, and if you’re struggling with emails to stores feel free to reach out, we would be happy to help! Forward us an email or send us a question, and we’ll be happy to collaborate with you on it!