16 Tips for Selling Your Books to Businesses
Retailers such as bookstores, supermarkets and discount stores buy books on a returnable basis. Publishers can avoid this profit-draining industry policy by selling books in large, non-returnable quantities to business buyers.
Success in this sales environment, however, requires a modified approach. With a little creative thinking you can find ways to help business buyers use your books to reach their goals. A bank might give a book about getting a college loan to parents of graduating high-school seniors. Kellogg's currently has a promotion with Scholastic in which a consumer who buys two boxes of its cereal gets a coupon for $5 off a Scholastic book. Here are some tips to help you think outside the box, and sell more of your books, without returns, to business buyers.
1. Know how they will use your book. Businesses do not sell books off the shelf; they use them as marketing tools to stimulate demand for their products. They might use your books as gifts to customers, as a prize or patronage award, or to train and motivate employees.
2. Focus on content. Business buyers do not purchase books to resell. They are swayed less by packaging than by how the information in your book can help them sell more products or services.
3. Re-purpose your content. Sell your existing content to different buyers. How do you find these buyers? Ask yourself questions such as, "Who else could use the information in my job-search books?" (Target high-school students, state governments or prison libraries.) "Who could use this content in generally overlooked segments?" (Translate your content for Latino readers.) "Who could act as a decision influencer?" (Consider parents of college students.)
4. Stop selling your books and start selling your content … in the form desired by buyers. Think of yourself as a consultant. Find out how the people in your target audience need your information. Do they want it in a book, booklet, three-ring binder, DVD, audio book or e-book? You may find it difficult to sell a job-search book to frugal college students, so re-publish your content as booklets and sell them to the colleges, who can give them to the students.
5. Prospect to find new buyers. Canvass your prospect lists to find new buyers. Approach current customers to find new ways to sell to them. Find new opportunities by researching marketers, C-level executives, human resources (HR) managers, sales managers and meeting planners. Ask for referrals in their company's other divisions and how they could use the content in your other titles. Ask if you could create original content for them.
6. Qualify your prospects. Not all prospects are equal in their purchasing ability. Some may be entrenched with competitive titles, have no budget or may have recently concluded a similar promotional campaign. A highly rated prospect is one that is easy to reach, has a need for your content and can afford it.
7. Sell to HR managers. They typically perform personnel functions, so they are interested in books that will help motivate, inspire, educate and recognize employees.
8. Sell to marketing people. Show them how they could reach their sales and profit objectives by using your book as a sales-promotional tool. Here are examples:
Coupons. There are several types of coupons, including dollars-off, in-pack, on-pack and near-pack. Each has its unique functions and benefits. For example, a pet food company might include coupons in bags of dog food for a discount on your book about dog care. It may place it on the labels of cans of dog food. Or, it could place coupons on counters in Petco stores or in veterinarians' offices.
Premiums. Premiums are free products given away with the purchase of other products to increase a company's sales. If the aforementioned pet food manufacturer instead included your dog-care book inside its dog-food packages, your book would be considered a premium.
Incentives. Many businesses offer incentive programs. A company might offer an incentive to the employee who finds the correct answer to a problem most quickly. Or, it may offer its customers punch cards that, once filled, can be redeemed for copies of your book.
Patronage awards. These are typically low-cost items, such as booklets, that reward customer loyalty. Companies might give your book away to people who purchase a minimum quantity of their products, or as a reward for visiting their websites. Patronage awards given in a series are considered a continuity program.
Prizes. A high-priced or high-valued coffee table book might be offered as a prize in a contest or sweepstakes.
Self-liquidators. Supermarkets could sell your book at a price low enough to entice buyers, but high enough to cover its cost, luring shoppers to their stores.
9. Customize your books by printing the company's logo on the cover. Or, ask the company's president to write the foreword for a custom edition. Or advertise their related products and services in the book or on the back cover. Tailor your book's content to fit special occasions or seasons, to recognize service anniversaries, or to celebrate company landmarks.
10. Create a proposal. Prepare a written description of your recommendation for using your book as the solution to their problems. Demonstrate how it will most cost-effectively reach your prospect's stated objectives.
11. Show how your book can be used in conjunction with other products to create or extend a theme. For example, if a company wanted to promote healthy living among its employees, it could combine a book about walking with a pedometer.
12. Be patient. The sales process for a significant order to a corporation may take a year or more. Before placing a large, non-returnable order, your prospects will probably want to test the ability of your book to meet their needs.
13. Help them perform due diligence. If the test goes well, your prospect will investigate your proposal's impact on employees, sales, brand image, competitive position, customers, suppliers, salespeople, purchasing policies, warehousing procedures, previous promotions, marketing plans and budgets, as well as short-term and long-term business plans. This due diligence will delay the decision, but you can help speed the process by aiding them where possible.
14. Negotiate in good faith. Rarely is your initial proposal accepted in totality. Negotiate a final agreement that meets the needs of both sides. Enter the negotiations with a list of the terms and alternatives that you will or will not negotiate.
15. Know when to fold 'em. If the other side will not yield on your major issues, the deal may not be profitable for you. Know when to walk away from a negotiation.
16. Perform post-sale service. Closing the sale is not the end of the process, but the start of a new phase. Do not try to make sales; try to make customers—long-term relationships that result in recurring revenue. Track orders closely to make sure the correct books are shipped at the right time in the right quantity.
Business buyers are professional people trying to make rational decisions for the good of their companies. The decision process can be lengthy since they have to justify the large expenditure. But if all goes as planned, you've not only sold a large quantity of books on a non-returnable basis, you have also set the stage for recurring revenue as they place blanket orders or buy other titles that you offer. BB
Brian Jud is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books" and now offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in non-bookstore markets. Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT, 06001-0715; (860) 675-1344; firstname.lastname@example.org; premiumbookcompany.com twitter.com/bookmarketing. Brian's Book Business blog, Beyond the Bookstore, just concluded a series on "Six Traps to Avoid When Negotiation Large-Quantity Book Sales." Read it at bookbusinessmag.com/channel/blogs.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."
Reach Brian at BrianJud@BookMarketing.com or visit his website at www.PremiumBookCompany.com