For makers, the emotional aspect of reaching out to stores is often the hardest. If you have taken the leap and reached to stores to introduce your work, you know it can be scary and even harder is knowing how many times to follow up. We get a lot of questions such as:
‘How many times is too many times to follow up? I know being persistent is good, but I don't want to look desperate or be a nuisance?’
‘How many follow-ups is too many? When is enough enough? Where is the line between following up and driving someone crazy?’
Every maker feels differently about the ideal number of follow-ups for them. We make the default with Wholesale In a Box to do two follow-ups as we find that this catches a lot of the stores that might be interested but didn't see or forgot about one of those initial emails. Some of the makers we work with don't like to do that second follow-up while others do an additional 2nd or 3rd and engage the store on Instagram and send something in the mail.
The "ideal" number of follow-ups can certainly vary from store to store. Sometimes, if you're already a little "iffy" on the store, you might not want to follow up twice. But then again if you're pretty darn "sold" on your work being a super-good fit for the store, you can absolutely circle back a number of times.
One way to do 3+ follow-ups is to stretch them over the longer term. So perhaps you do two follow-ups right away (at 2 week intervals) and then you circle back 3 months later with an update. And then again 6 months later just to pop your head in and say hello, perhaps telling them about a new product or line. One thing you do not want to do because it’s illegal (and because it’s ineffective) is to add people on your mailing list who never signed up for it.
For the most part, unless stores have given you a "no" it's not bad to keep touching base via email. The only thing that's not appreciated is if you do a TON of follow-ups in a super-short period of time, because then the store owner might feel like, "I haven't even written back to my mom/customers/friends in the period that you keep writing to me in! Hold your horses!" Keep in mind this isn't about wearing anyone down or sending them emails they don't want to receive. It is about being present and responsive and engaged with stores you truly believe are a good fit and would benefit in some way from carrying your line.
I would be leaving something out if I didn’t say that the etiquette around following up varies quite a bit from industry to industry. There are so-called sales gurus who will tell you not to follow up fewer than 7 times and then 5 more touch points after that! The truth is that while you may not want to go that far, if you only are reaching out to stores that you are really confident would be a good fit, you can stand tall in your strength and persistence in whatever way feels right for you.
It is often at the intersection of self-doubt and a lack of information that we feel nervous. You can mitigate a lot of the emotional turmoil around following up by:
Setting a standard for yourself as to the type of store you reach out to and trusting that anyone you have on your schedule to follow up with has already been vetted.
Setting a follow-up schedule that you think is respectful, fair, and proactive, and
Sticking to it no matter how you feel in that moment.
For more see our Following Up With Retailers: Do's and Don'ts article in the Wholesale In a Box Training Center
If you have questions please feel free to reach out, we would be more than happy to help!