Last fall, Sherrill Mosee was scrolling through her email when an announcement from the Pennsylvania Conference for Women caught her eye: Attendees would be able to pitch their products to a panel from QVC.
Mosee, who had been selling her organizational tote bags in local boutiques and on her website for about a year, was beyond excited. This opportunity could be the solution to her biggest challenge since launching MinkeeBlue—getting her brand on people’s radar.
“As a small business owner, you’re in charge of everything—manufacturing, materials, marketing—but when it comes to sales, you have no control over what people are going to buy. All you can do is put your product in front of as many of them as possible,” Mosee says. “For me, QVC is the perfect distribution outlet, because demonstrating my product is the best way to sell it.”
So with the same optimism and pluck that led the former Lockheed Martin engineer to turn an idea (a three-in-one tote that combines a purse, lunch bag and laptop carrier) into a business (and prior to that, to start a non-profit organization to help student moms pay for childcare), Mosee signed up for a time slot and set about honing her sales pitch. “I’d been doing cold calls and selling at conferences and seminars, so it was really a matter of hitting all my points in a five-minute timeframe,” Mosee says.
Her efforts paid off. QVC invited her to join QVC Sprouts, an online competition and entry point for many rookie entrepreneurs to its multiplatform retail program. Mosee was also selected as a finalist for the TODAY show‘s contest, “Next Big Thing 2,” which gave winners the chance to sell their products on QVC.com. Following Mosee’s appearance on Today last spring, her sales tripled—and she’s still backlogged with orders.
“People tell me I should try to get into big box stores now, but I know I’m not ready yet,” Mosee says. “That’s what’s so great about being in the QVC Sprouts program—they meet you where you are and help you grow strategically.”
Here, Mosee’s top three tips for entrepreneurs pitching to QVC at this year’s conference:
1. Practice in front of small groups.
“Ideally, it should be in front of your customer base, so that you’re getting feedback that will help you speak to their needs,” says Mosee, who tried out her pitch for QVC on friends, family and colleagues for more than a week. Remember: Your product should be solving a particular problem.
2. Know your product inside and out.
“It will help you feel more confident and comfortable,” Mosee says. “I saw people reading from a pad or sounding like they were reciting something they had memorized. But you want the panel to feel like you’re speaking to them, not at them. And you want to maintain eye contact.”
3. Come early.
“Watching other people helped me relax,” Mosee says. “You see that everyone is nervous, and that it’s okay if you feel nervous. The people on the QVC panel are very nice and joke and laugh to help ease the tension.”
Registered attendees at the 2016 Pennsylvania Conference for Women will have the opportunity to pitch their products to a panel of experts from QVC and zulily. Sign up as a newsletter subscriber to receive the announcement with more details as soon as it’s released.