Estimated Read Time: 10 Minutes
While on the various Facebook groups, Twitter chats, and blogs, I’ve noticed a few key topics.
- Interesting Products
- Sales Tips
The Top 2019 Topics
The tariff topic is no surprise. Despite the ups and downs in negotiations between the governments, the tariffs will heavily impact our industry. We have written two blogs about this topic: Tariffying and Don’t Fear the Tariffs, both stating that we are firm believers that distributors should focus more on partnering with US (domestic) manufacturers.
Interesting products are a constant topic, whether that’s the latest fad, new products, great deals, or products that have been out for a while but are growing in popularity. There’s plenty out there, from signage, lobby displays, and environmental branding to awards, trophies, and commemorative gifts. But as a distributor, it’s about understanding what best fits your client’s needs. That’s why we wrote a few tools and blogs:
- 7 Promo Product Selling Tips
- 11 Signs That Your Customers Are Looking for Custom
- Would You Like Some Breadsticks With That?
- How to Design a Custom Award From Scratch
- 7 Tips for an Award with the “Wow Factor”
- 5 Signs You Should Engage in Custom Awards
- Custom Recognition Shopping List: 10 Aisles in 7 Minutes
- Awards Programs: What to Call Them When You Don’t Know What They’re Called
- 10 Reasons to Become a Custom Recognition Specialist
- Conversation Piece: How Custom Awards Can Resolve Common Conflicts
- 2 Skills Every Promotional Product Professional Needs to be More Successful
- Getting Into the DNA of a Brand
- 6 Incentive Gift Ideas
- Personal & Professional Gift Ideas to Celebrate Accomplishments
- Traveling with Awards
- Tracking Results for Promotional Product Campaigns
- 6 Keys to Selling Recognition Gifts
- How Custom Awards and Displayable Products Are Used
- Why Sell Custom Awards?
- Where Can Opportunities For Custom Awards Be Found?
- When Is an Award Effective?
- Who Needs Recognition?
- What to Ask Your Client
Ok, maybe not a few. We have created a lot of tools and blogs for distributors; we are firm believers in providing as many resources as possible to help you.
New Sales Tactics for the New Year
And what about the final popular topic right now? That’s sales tips. As you can see with our long list of blogs and tools above, we have written quite a bit about sales tips and ways to sell promotional products, as well as custom pieces.
So, rather than rehashing old (but effective) sales tips, we are going to look at the larger picture and discuss sales tactics.
So, here are 6 sales tactics to try. You’ll find them surprising, and helpful, if you actually do implement any of these (if not multiple).
1. Forget What You’re Selling
“The reality is that customers are more demanding and more aware of the competitive landscape than ever before. Leading with the product is absolutely putting the wrong foot forward,” Dave Roberts, UNC Kenan Flagler Business School professor.
Instead, you need to approach each sales pitch with questions about your prospects’ needs, their industry, their challenges, and other vital information.
Dave continued to state, “What every client is really looking for is help. If you can identify that need and meet it, then you’re a problem solver, not a salesman. And if it happens that your product meets their needs, so much the better. The relationship is every bit as important as the sale.”
So, rather than bringing a bag-load of products, spreading them out on the table and only focusing on the swag, have a conversation. Approach your clients like a consultant. Be a problem-solver and not the stereotypical salesperson.
Ask questions first. Provide solutions after.
2. Grow Your Current Clients
If you current clients already trust you and order from you, why not try to grow their business? A common business term – the 80/20 rule – 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients.
Thus, look at your client list and look for opportunities. Build that relationship with them. Ask more questions to see how you can help. I’m sure there are services and products you can assist with that they didn’t even know you could do (which means they are getting those from someone else).
Take time in your next phone call or meeting to learn what is going on with their business right now. What projects are they juggling? Maybe there’s a sale or upsell opportunity, or maybe not; however, the more you know what’s going on and the more input liberty you have, the more they’ll come to you.
It takes minimal cost to grow your current clients, so that should definitely be a sales tactic everyone should work on this year.
Forbes has an intricate plan for building up referral business. They discuss starting with your 12 highest potential relationships, as these will be the people you initially ask to make referrals, whether they are current or past clients, former colleagues, or personal or professional friends. Then, map out who their peers are within their organization, who are their firm’s best customers, who do they take advice from, who in the referral’s professional or personal community would reasonably need for your expertise and respond to a request to meet you.
Despite all of those plans, the hardest part is asking your network. But it’s vital, especially since only 11% of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. Forbes highly recommends asking in person, then a call if you can’t meet in person; however, never ask via email.
Forbes has a great detailed plan that I recommend. Despite that, there are still other ideas and opportunities, such as setting up a referral program, asking after a positive experience, or a few other referral ideas here.
Since people are more likely to trust word of mouth from a friend or respected colleague, this is an often under-utilized marketing and sales tactic.
First, you have to learn how to uncover your customer’s pain-point.
Try asking closed-ended questions, ones that typically require just a yes or no. That usually loosens up the prospect or client (unless you already have a relationship with them); then, start asking more open-ended questions. These will prompt your client to reveal more information, which will give you a deeper insight into their needs.
Since as many as 70% of your leads are reaching out to solve their problems, you need to take time to understand what their problem/pain is.
Hence, find out what their need/pain is before providing solutions.
5. Become a Storyteller
We are in the storytelling business. Yes, promotional products tell a story.
Despite that fact, few distributors take on the role of master storyteller – for themselves or their clients.
Sometimes sales professionals come armed with facts and data (which is compelling and great for certain client types), but more distributors need to be coming in with a story. Especially since 63% of people remember stories after a presentation.
As Dave mentioned in this blog, storytelling used to be the primary form of communication, but it has declined through recent years. But the good news is that we can exercise storytelling like we can exercise a muscle. It takes practice and commitment, but finding your own words and your own voice will be liberating for you.
Your case studies (or the case studies of your supplier partners) are a great way to show capabilities and relate to your customer.
6. Be Honest, Genuine, and Helpful
Before you meet your prospect, these business professionals (especially the big ones) will expect you to do some basic research on them. Rather than just doing the top layer research, dig a little deeper. By researching ahead of time, you will be able to provide honest, genuine, and helpful insights.
Then, throughout the communication process and beyond, you will build a relationship and trust by being honest, genuine, and helpful - not just selling them a product and disappearing until the time to reorder comes back around.
With the New Year, take some time to try out these new sales tactics; and let us know how that goes for you in the comments!
Kristina Hublar is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, the website, and other marketing efforts. In her spare time, you’ll find her bobbing along to music while crafting, spending time with loved ones, or with her nose in a book.