This ad will close in
Question added to topic Business IdeasAugust 16, 2013

How Can I Pitch My Product to Large Companies?

I've been working on a product I haven't seen on store shelves yet. I don't want to give away the details, but it's something that I could see being sold in electronics stores and maybe even toy stores. Now that I'm wrapping up, I really want to get my product in front of major companies who would want to sell my product. Since I'm not well-known, I think the product would have a better chance of success if I could get it sold under a big label or even a big-box store brand. That's where I'm at a loss. What are the next steps I should take to reach my goals?

Congratulations on developing a finished product. Now for the hard part, monetizing it. I'm glad to learn that you are thinking big with the goal of distributing your product to the masses via a big box brand. Unfortunately, gaining their attention and trust isn't so easy. Still, there are certain steps you can take to help you reach your goals.

First and foremost, there must be evidence to suggest that you have proof of concept. While I understand that you developed the product because you believe there's a need for it in the market, there needs to be proof. The best evidence is to show that people are using the product and have paid money for it. It doesn't have to be tens of thousands of customers, but a large enough sample size to support the notion that market acceptance exists. Distributing the product to smaller retailers would be the best place to start. If you're deeply concerned about sharing your product with the public for fears of competitors cloning it, there are other ways to show a need in the market, such as industry research, surveys and focus groups to show the need. It's not the best evidence, but there's a chance that it might be sufficient when presenting to a big box brand.

I would also recommend that you create a list of big box brands that you believe would embrace your product. Once you have a list, then search through your professional network for individuals that are directly connected with business development contacts at these big box brands. Use LinkedIn and other networks to try to find the right person to contact. If you can't identify any direct or third-party connections, you'll need to try to gain introductions through conferences, events and tradeshows that the company attends.

Once you do get the opportunity to speak with the company, you'll need to be prepared to explain the product features, manufacturing process, costs, price, risks and market opportunity. The more facts you can provide with numbers, plus qualitative evidence suggesting market acceptance from customers, the stronger your case will be for them to agree to distribute your product. Be prepared to answer difficult questions you may not have thought of earlier. Could your product pose a risk to children if misused? If so, what can you do to mitigate that risk? I recommend you put yourself in the shoes of the people to whom you’ll be presenting. Then, think about what you would ask if you worked at this company and an outsider was presenting a new product they'd like you to distribute.

Lastly, don't overlook working with a partner or a professional that has specific experience selling products to big box brands. You may have to give up some equity and/or provide compensation, but if it helps you meet your goals, it can certainly be money well spent.

Ryan Himmel, CPA and registered securities analyst, is the founder and CEO of BIDaWIZ.com, a professional network for small businesses and entrepreneurs to obtain trusted advice and services from a team of CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Financial Planners & Tax Attorneys.  His team provides answers to the many finance and tax questions that small businesses encounter every day. Ryan has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fox Business and Crain's New York, among other publications. Ryan also regularly contributes to the community with his finance and tax blog.

About ASK ENTREPRENEUR

Ask Entrepreneur is a question-and-answer forum for and by the Entrepreneur.com community. Send in your burning business question, or comment on someone else's now. Have a Question? Ask Now

Topics (over 1000+ answers)

Don’t see a topic? Suggest One

Ask Entrepreneur Q&A Hangouts

Google + Hangout With Shark Tank
Google + Hangout With Jason Falls
Google + Hangout With Angela Jia Kim
Google + Hangout With Grant Cardone