Estimated Read Time: 10 Minutes
There are so many stock options out there, you could easily get lost. The chucks of glass alone on SAGE or ESP could keep you busy for hours. Then if you are brave enough to venture out of the heaps of cheap stock options, it quickly turns into a lot of random products that semi-fall under the category of recognition mixed in with awards and other items.
With that being said, it’s good to have choices and options, especially when that fits your budget and other needs. Though, it’s better to have a partner supplier that you trust to be your go-to for awards rather than mindlessly scrolling through glass, acrylic, and etc. for hours.
However, what happens when your client asks for something unique that they’ve never seen before?
What happens when your client asks for something that fits them - their branding, their messaging, and their culture perfectly?
That’s a little harder with stock options, right? These questions are signs that your client is looking for a custom piece. Custom means a product designed from scratch to meet all your parameters, which includes various elements, such as budget, timeline, theme, tone, and bringing an abstract idea into the world of reality.
At Bruce Fox, our process is simple; we start with a blank sheet of paper, a conversation, and a bit of experience and creativity. We then design and build the piece that “gets” your client.
That requires a bit of a partnership.
We can design and create utilitarian, classic, or edgy; pretty much any out-of-the-box design you want, but we need to understand and know your client and their needs first. That’s where you come in.
You are our client, our friend, and our go-between partner.
But if you’ve never sold custom recognition gifts before, what do you do?
Don’t worry; we have put together a list of key actions in the sales process.
1. Do Your Research
Research should be Sales 101.
Do research on the company, their target audience, their industry, their competition, and their people. You need to understand who you are going to be working with and for. Without background knowledge, how are you supposed to give viable, logical, and creative suggestions and solutions?
Yes, you will have a conversation with your client to learn more, but that’s my point. Your conversation with your client shouldn’t be the first time you’ve learned the basics about them; you should be building upon your knowledge and learning more.
You are a solutions-provider. Be sure to understand your client before you walk through the door so you can provide creative and insightful solutions.
- 72% of employers have performance-based recognition programs (via Engage2Excel).
- The number one type of recognition that organizations have in place is for recognizing years of service (via TinyPulse).
- 80% of custom awards repeat annually for Bruce Fox, Inc. This means that once you’ve sold the recognition program, it’s likely to last and repeat year after year.
2. Ask Questions
Alright, you’ve done your research. You have a meeting with a prospect coming up and you are prepared.
You know that their industry’s employee recognition cycle is unique because they recognize their upcoming sales people within the first 30 days, not the first year like other industries.
You also discovered that this company merged with another company recently, which tells you that they will want to align branding, they want to keep and recognize their top talent, and they want to improve employee morale.
Finally, you found in your research that this company likes to represent themselves as a “rock” in the industry – reliable and stable. They value problem-solving, sales, customer service, and intelligence.
Do you see how researching before can lead to additional questions, digging deeper into the company news, culture, and current situation? Now you are armed with knowledge and information.
You can go in asking informed questions…
- Ask about previous recognition programs.
- Ask about how they are handling the merger transition.
- Ask about the usual, such as budget, timeline, and so on.
- Ask about the theme for the program.
- Ask about the company culture.
- Ask about who will be involved in this program and its decisions.
- Ask why they want a recognition program now.
- Ask what goals they have.
Not sure what questions to ask your client to get started? We have created a list for you.
You need to ask these questions, learn more, and then discuss goals, needs, and solutions.
These questions will dig into the real problems that the company is facing, as well as, the basic information that all distributors and suppliers need. This can be from budget and why the person is being recognized to if there will be an event that the recognition will be given out at and how often the recognition will repeat.
3. Have a Conversation
You’ve asked questions - you know who your project contact is, what their goals are, and understand the project basics.
When you talk with your prospect or client, one thing is for sure – this is a conversation. A conversation should go two-ways. You should never dominate the conversation and start telling your client what they need right off. Listen before you given answers.
You discuss with your client about what they are looking for in a recognition gift or program. You discuss what worked and didn’t work in the past. You discuss who and what departments need to be recognized. What are the results that they are wanting to see with these recognition programs?
After you understand the basics, such as goals, timeline, budget, and other project parameters, then you go into the fun stuff – being a solutions-provider. You have a conversation about your ideas and talk through it all. Together, you talk through and work on solutions. Give suggestions, propose creative solutions, and guide your client as a consultative-expert.
4. Have a Partner
Speaking of working together, as mentioned earlier, rather than wasting time sending blanket emails or searching through endless products in ESP and SAGE, it’s best to work with a trusted source. That’s what you are to your clients. Why shouldn’t you have trusted partners that supply your products?
After you have a conversation with your client and have a good idea what the solution should be, now’s the time to check out your big book of suppliers. Your go-to partners that you know will always help you, provide excellent customer service, and, above all, provide above and beyond creative solutions.
So, once you’ve identified the best supplier for your needs, then you partner with that company. You have conversations, develop a solution for your client’s needs, and even bring in the client if you need.
Bring in a client?
Yes, that’s what partners do – trust and help each other.
And guess what, the deeper the bonds are, the more likely everyone is willing to be flexible and do extraordinary deeds and work for each other.
Read more about the importance and traits it takes to have a partnership here.
5. Don’t Forget the Extras/Bonus Items
You know a recognition gift will be given to employees for XYZ reason, but have you thought about any upselling opportunities?
Many don’t. That’s why we wrote this article.
Just think about it.
If the gift is upscale, think about packaging.
If it’s an ongoing program, think about an ongoing roster that’s proudly displayed in the lobby or an online store for easy reordering.
If you want the gift to be unique, why not try these ideas to make it “pop?”
If the recognition is a big deal, why not include a letter from the CEO or their boss?
There are so many “bonuses” that can elevate the gift. Make it even more special, meaningful, and “high-quality.” Many don’t think about those extras and that’s what will make you stand out.
Want more product enhancement ideas? Read this blog.
6. Communication and Customer Service
Question: How long should you have communication and fantastic customer service after the initial signing of the dotted line?
Answer: It should never stop.
You don’t want to come off as a bait-and-switch. You want to be authentic and trustworthy – a partner (yes, there’s that word again).
From the initial sale to 3 years later with a few more sales under your belt and beyond; you should always have open communication and good customer service.
If there’s an issue – be open about it, but fix it. If there’s a win, then share it. That’s open communication they will respect.
What about customer service? Creative problem-solving, being nice and helpful during it all, and open communication – it’s as simple as that.
All 6 of these are key elements to successfully sell recognition gifts. It’s about understanding the client, being a partner, coming up with creative solutions, and communicating and serving them along the way.
That sure sounds like your job description already, doesn’t it? That’s because what I’m explaining isn’t hard, it just takes time and a little guidance; then it’ll become easy in no time.
Want more one-on-one guidance? Reach out to us – we’ll be happy to help.
Kristina Hublar (formerly Mobley) is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. She’s new to Bruce Fox, but is an Indiana native. In her spare time, you’ll find her plotting her next road trip, bobbing along to music while crafting, spending time with loved ones, or with her nose in a book.