I created an award-winning board game a few years ago that teaches what it’s like to be a lawyer and run a small business. Anyone who plays the game says this should be in Barnes & Noble. How do you get a sit-down meeting with a large company? Sending marketing materials does not work. These companies are inundated with products. How do you separate yourself from the pack on a limited budget?

Tina Nelson

CEO, Professional Games Inc.



Getting the attention of a major retailer is difficult. They get thousands of requests from vendors every year. But you can increase your chance of success.

• Be an expert on their process. Some have a specific time(s) of the year they consider new products. If not, leverage your network to find someone in the company who can help you get to the right people.

• Your proposal should demonstrate you understand their business — customers, product mix, pricing, etc. Then talk about how your product fits their store, based on your research. This is your sales call — show how your product works for them and their customers.

• Have evidence your product will sell — usually online sales or independent stores, which are where most new products start.

• Hone your pitch. Face time with a buyer may be five minutes or less. You have to be able to describe the product, the customer and your company in two minutes or less. Remember, they are buying your product and your company. They need to be confident that you will deliver what you promise — or they look bad to their boss.

Finally, a major retailer may not be right for your product. Find smaller stores, especially independents that sell board games and other gift items. Find out where independent game or gift stores go to buy products, and get a booth.

About the author

Mark Spriggs, Ph.D., associate professor and department chair of Entrepreneurship Department, University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business