Editor’s note: This month we offer a tip for our readers who want to get distribution for their brands.

To get your brand on a retailer’s shelf you need to convince them your product will help them make more money. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast.

First, you must have a compelling retailer sales story.

Retailers need and want brands willing and able to help them drive sustainable sales. Gain a competitive advantage by helping the retailer succeed.

Before you can have a productive conversation with retailers about why your product should be on their shelves, you need to successfully communicate the benefit of what’s in it for them. When developing your go-to market strategy and determining your brand’s sales story, here are some specific questions you need to answer first:

1. Do you know what to include (and not include) in your presentation? 2. Does your presentation include actionable insights like schematics and how you will specifically eliminate out of stocks? 3. What specific merchandising recommendations can you provide that will help the retailer drive foot traffic and sales? 4. Have you highlighted your commitment to provide them with merchandising support? 5. Have you compared the sales of their current products against the retailer’s competition in your category? How does your product perform against your competitors? 6. If your product is new with no sales history, what are your sales projections? 7. How does your product attract shoppers into the retailer’s store and what complementary items do they purchase when they buy your product?

Answers to these questions may require a more detailed analysis than you are currently doing. You also need an effective selling story that includes an in-depth understanding of how your customer shops the category and the retailer.

All retailers want to know the answer to one question. What’s in it for me?

Does your sales story adequately address this question? Is it compelling enough to get your product on the shelf and more important, keep it there?

The competitive landscape is changing. Retailers need and want more from brands than canned topline reports and generic sales presentations. Whole Foods Market is adopting traditional category management. Independent retailers deserve the same commitment from brands.

True category management is advanced storytelling. It focuses on what makes natural, natural. You must know your numbers. Fact-based selling is critical and often determines whether or not a retailer says yes. Retailers want creative strategies that will give them a significant competitive advantage to grow sales.

Retailers appreciate brands that recommend product assortments to attract new shoppers, promotional strategies to eliminate out-of-stocks, pricing strategies to help them remain competitive, insights to stimulate shopper loyalty, and merchandising to make the store more shopper friendly. Effective storytelling is where brands need to begin the conversation. If you’re a retailer and not asking brands for this help, it’s time to ask for it.

Dan’s mission is “Empowering Brands and Raising The Bar.” His weekly newsletter, educational podcast and training courses have become an invaluable resource for brands and retailers seeking a competitive advantage. To learn more or connect with Dan, visit BrandSecretsandStrategies.com or email dan@cms4cpg.com.

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Published in WholeFoods Magazine March 2018