I’ve heard it said, that the best sales people out there don’t try to do a hard sale. Instead, they lead very softly. In fact, it’s often so soft that the person they’re talking to doesn’t even realize they’re being sold. I can remember back in the old days where I would have an appointment to meet with the business owner. The first thing I would do when I walked into that office is notice what’s on his desk or what’s hanging on his wall. For example, let’s say it was a fish that he had caught and had mounted. I would bring it up and get him to start talking about it. This was a huge Icebreaker! The point I’m making here is that normally a person’s favorite subject to discuss is themselves. I hadn’t even mentioned custom t-shirts or embroidery and the guy already liked me and we had a connection. If I happen to see a trophy on a shelf or on his desk, I would do the same thing. I would say something like, I see you play golf. How did you win that trophy? Before I knew it, 15 minutes had went by and I said very little. This guy thought I was one of the greatest conversationalists ever and in reality, I hardly said a thing. Lesson to be learned here, the best sales people not only know what to say, but even more importantly, they know how to listen. In other words, it’s not necessarily always what you say but what you don’t say can be very important.
There’s certainly advantages to starting a St Louis t-shirt printing company being that we are located in the Midwest. The big advantage is that every time the season goes from hot to cold or vice versa the potential customer is going to need more apparel going from long sleeve to short or lightweight to heavyweight jackets, etc. The key is to somehow create that perceived value in your customer’s eyes that gives him a reason to give you a chance over the next guy who’s trying to get the same order. That approach would be to start out with an extremely attractive price point. This would be a good reason for them to give you a shot at the new order. Once you have this opportunity, then it’s up to you to make sure the job was done with excellence as well as delivered on time. You might even throw in a little something extra that they didn’t even order such as a hooded sweatshirt. He’ll not only appreciate the nice gesture but it plants a seed. He’ll be wearing that around and the other people in the office will take notice of that and ask where’s mine? Before you know it, the phone is ringing and he’s got a brand new order for those hoodies.
In reality, a free sample floating around the office, is an extremely powerful sales tool . This is a great example of what I was referring to when I said that the best salespeople I ever met use a soft sale method.
Last week we were talking about old school methods of marketing and sales that I used to implement before the advantages that the cell phone and internet gave us. I mentioned that I would go to a shopping mall where the different businesses were all adjacent to one another and enclosed proximity, and I used to simply start knocking on doors and walk in introducing myself. I also touched on how difficult it was sometimes to get through or past what I referred to as the gate keeper, being the receptionist. She was often trained to intercept guys like myself, as well as filter out soliciting phone calls. I had my speech already to go, but I learned from experience that no matter how well I delivered it and how great it was, that she didn’t have the authority to make any type of decision so it was pretty much a waste of time and effort unless I could get to the boss. She would normally say he’s not in and to leave her a card. I would, but more than not, it would just end up in a pile of other cards and the boss never even saw it. I also touched on what I did to overcome these type of challenges. Instead of giving them a card I would leave behind a magnet and I would make it bigger than just a typical business card would be. That way if it did get stacked it would stand out over the others in the deck. Most of the time, it would end up in the lunchroom on a refrigerator or on a file cabinet and that was just fine with me. The boss eventually would see it when he went to that refrigerator and it would stay around till eventually they actually were in the market to buy some custom screen printing or embroidery.
That approach, combined with taking really good notes and calling them back one or two months later was certainly helpful. I also touched on the importance of making sure, that if the secretary did not have the authority to make a decision regarding their digital t-shirt printing, that I wouldn’t waste my time or effort trying to sell her.
I cannot emphasize enough how you have to be patient with this approach as well as persistent. There’s a fine line a salesman walks. He doesn’t want to be a nuisance, but he certainly does not want to be forgotten. That being said, I always rather error on the side of caution and would rather risk the potential of being a pain in the butt then not being remembered at all.
When I first tried to break into the St Louis digital t-shirt printing market I realized that it was going to be tough as there’s a whole lot of competitors out there. I needed to find a way to somehow get an edge on them. I studied my competition, and realized after doing so, that to the best of my knowledge, none of them were actually knocking on their door or calling them. More than not, they were just waiting for the phone to rank with a potential order and they weren’t nearly as aggressive in seeking out new businesses as myself.
Okay, let’s circle back to about a week or so ago, when I was telling you about how I used to market and sell back in the day before technology gave us the cell phone and the internet. I touched on how I used to drive to an industrial park where the businesses were right next to each other or at least in very close proximity and proceed to knock on doors and just asking the business owner, if I could please have a chance to quote the next time he was in the market for some digital t-shirt printing or custom embroidery. Typically, he would tell me that they didn’t need anything right at this very moment, but if I would leave him a business card, he would be happy to give me a call when that time would eventually come. I would reply yes, here’s my card. I would also mention to him that, if I can’t give him a better value than what he’s currently getting there’s no reason to switch, but if he would at least give me a chance, I would try to come up with some kind of incentive in order to make sure it would be worth his while to give me a chance.
I can remember taking good notes and creating a database where it told me to come back in a month or two after the season changes over. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was, when I would give him a call at that point in time, and he would tell me he already ordered or I would happen to just stop by and I noticed everybody was wearing new shirts. The point is this. Even after he told me he would give me a shot, he didn’t. I asked him if he had my business card still and it would normally end up somewhere in the middle of a huge stack of cards with a rubber band around it and he forgot it was ever even there. So in order to offset this challenge, I started making magnets with my company logo on it. Unlike a business card that would just get stacked in a deck, my magnet would normally end up on some type of refrigerator or at least a file cabinet and it would keep me on their mind. I remember getting much better results with this approach.
The point I’m making is this. When you break down the components of any marketing or sales campaign. The hardest part of the equation by far is to find somebody who needs whatever it is that you happen to be selling at that time, whether it be custom screen printing or embroidery or anything else for that matter. The second most critical part of that equation is to close the sale. All this really means is that you need to create some kind of incentive to give you an edge over the other St Louis t-shirt printing companies that are quoting on the same project. In other words, create some kind of perceived value that is going to be strong enough to give you a foot in the door and then make the most of it.
In one of our last blogs, I had touched on the fact that the most important component of any marketing campaign would be to try and identify a potential client at the exact point in time where he or she might be wanting exactly whatever it is you are selling.
When I think of the tremendous advantages that technology will lend itself to in this present day, it makes me so appreciative. I really can’t remember the last time I actually knocked on doors to make a cold call.
I started this company approximately 30 years or more ago, and I am very grateful for the advantages that we have today since we live in a digital age where information can move around the world within seconds. I can remember back when I started, I had to get some business cards printed up and just start knocking on doors of various businesses. I would usually drive to an industrial park where the offices were adjacent to one another and that way I didn’t have to walk far from one company to the other.
Another advantage that this gave me was this. If I eventually did find someone who needed some custom t-shirts, I could reschedule a meeting, and bring over samples at a later date to more than one company at a time, all in the same proximity. This also gave me the advantage of saving on a lot of gas money and wear and tear on my car. Keep in mind that this is well before anybody even had a cell phone. Therefore, I tried to work smarter instead of harder in order to maximize my effort as well as save time.
I can still remember what I used to say when I walked in the door. The first thing I tried to do is get to the decision maker which meant I usually had to get past the guard dog, or in other words, the receptionist, who would try to filter out guys like myself as well as telemarketers. Some of these secretaries were tougher to get through than others. Assuming I could get through to the office manager or owner, I would simply introduce myself and ask them this. “If you don’t happen to need any custom embroidery or screen printing at this present time, could I at least ask you when you think the next time would be that you will be needing any digital t-shirt printing?” They would usually guesstimate about 4 to 8 weeks out when the season was getting ready to change over. They would normally ask me if I had a business card that I could leave and I would. That being said, more than not, my business card would end up in a stack of 50 or more with a rubber band around it. Unless it happened to be sitting right on top, they would forget it was even there.
I remember taking really good notes in order to create a database that would flag me, when that time would eventually arrive in order that I didn’t miss out. In my next blog, I will continue my recommendations on how to market to a St Louis screen printing audience and get into what I did in order to offset these obstacles.
If memory serves me correctly, last time we spoke about marketing and sales, not being exactly the same thing but they still compliment each other tremendously. You can be the very finest St Louis digital t-shirt printing company available but if someone can’t find you when they need your services then you’re probably not going to get the job unless it happens to potentially be a repeat customer. Let’s take one more look at the anatomy of a sale. It all starts with finding a potential customer who needs whatever it is you’re trying to Market at that particular point in time. The next critical part of the equation would be referred to as the close. All this really means is that you need to give this client a reason why they should use your St Louis embroidery company over a competitors. That could be determined by a number of different ways.
Of course price is one of those determining factors. That being said, the old cliche that mentions you get what you pay for certainly does hold true. If it seems to be too good to be true, there’s probably a number of reasons for that. That being said, there is certainly no status and paying more than you need to either. Another huge factor that you need to convey to your potential customer is dependability. My point of making is that it doesn’t benefit them to save a few dollars on a job if they’re order happens to be for an event that’s time sensitive and they don’t end up getting them in time. Yet another significant point distress would be the quality of your work. Cheap doesn’t mean much if the order was processed incorrectly. I have asked my customers in the past, that I will give you three choices you can have any two out of the three you choose. Would you like them quick or fast or inexpensive. Choose any two you want but you can’t have all three.
Another strong recommendation that I would make is to not sell yourself short. Anybody can give it away but it takes a salesman to sell it. Never forget that you’re in business to make a fair profit and the day that you can’t do that, I would recommend finding another line of business to break into. What is it profit you, if you sell a million dollars worth of custom screen printing a month but you quoted them so low that you didn’t make any money. All you did was take on an enormous amount of responsibility and work your tail off for nothing. Tune in for the next block we’ll cover some of the advantages of trying to do business in a digital age.
If memory serves me correctly, last time we spoke about marketing and
sales, not being exactly the same thing but they still compliment each
other tremendously. You can be the very finest St Louis digital t-shirt
printing company available but if someone can’t find you when they need
your services then you’re probably not going to get the job unless it
happens to potentially be a repeat customer. Let’s take one more look at
the anatomy of a sale. It all starts with finding a potential customer who
needs whatever it is you’re trying to Market at that particular point in
time. The next critical part of the equation would be referred to as the
close. All this really means is that you need to give this client a reason
why they should use your St Louis embroidery company over a competitors.
That could be determined by a number of different ways.
Of course price is one of those determining factors. That being said, the
old cliche that mentions you get what you pay for certainly does hold true.
If it seems to be too good to be true, there’s probably a number of reasons
for that. That being said, there is certainly no status and paying more
than you need to either. Another huge factor that you need to convey to
your potential customer is dependability. My point of making is that it
doesn’t benefit them to save a few dollars on a job if they’re order
happens to be for an event that’s time sensitive and they don’t end up
getting them in time. Yet another significant point distress would be the
quality of your work. Cheap doesn’t mean much if the order was processed
incorrectly. I have asked my customers in the past, that I will give you
three choices you can have any two out of the three you choose. Would you
like them quick or fast or inexpensive. Choose any two you want but you
can’t have all three. Another strong recommendation that I would make is to
not sell yourself short. Anybody can give it away but it takes a salesman
to sell it. Never forget that you’re in business to make a fair profit and
the day that you can’t do that, I would recommend finding another line of
business to break into. What is it profit you, if you sell a million
dollars worth of custom screen printing a month but you quoted them so low
that you didn’t make any money. All you did was take on an enormous amount
of responsibility and work your tail off for nothing. Tune in for the next
block we’ll cover some of the advantages of trying to do business in a
About 10 days ago or so, we touched on the fact that since you have a limited amount of resources to work with you need to be very wise when trying to figure out what to address first. Instead of going out and incurring a big monthly debt responsibility, I strongly recommended that you spend the lion’s share of your effort figuring out if you’re actually going to be able to make an educated judgment call on you being able to make a go of it in the St Louis digital t-shirt printing industry.
I recommended that you start out by making sure that you can actually sell it first, before you go any further or get any deeper into this endeavor. I touched on when I first broke into this business I went out and printed up some business cards. I just started knocking on the doors of local businesses and asking them if they wouldn’t mind if I could simply have a chance to bid on the next time they ended up needing some custom embroidery or screen printing. More than not, everybody that I called on did happen to use these items but they didn’t necessarily need it at that very moment. They would ask me if I had a business card and I said sure.
I can’t tell you how many times I watch them grab the business card and unconsciously start to fold it up while they were talking to me. I’m thinking to myself if they can’t even keep the card intact during the 5-minute interaction that we were having, it’s pretty much a long shot that they’re going to keep it around 2 or 3 months down the line. If the business card was to survive, it would typically end up in a stack of cards 50 or more thick, and unless it happened to somehow miraculously be on the very top a few months later, they normally would forget it was even there and I never even actually got the call. I even remember being out with my family one time and noticing that a guy who walked by me had on what appeared to be brand new sweatshirt with custom screen printing and embroidery across the chest of a company/ That told me if I left my card, they would be sure and give me a call. Reality is, most of the time that call never actually came. So at that point I realized that if they’re not going to call me, I’m going to have to call them. I would make it a point before I left that cold call to actually ask them when specifically are they going to be needing to place a new order? I would then create a database and reach out to them when that time eventually came.
Well let’s pick up where we left off. If memory serves me correctly, we touched on the fact that you’re going to have a limited amount of resources with which to work when first launching this campaign and I recommended being very discriminating regarding choosing your battles. How would these limited resources be best served?
Before you go out and spend a fortune on brand new custom embroidery equipment, I think your interest would be best served by making sure that you’re going to be able to sell it. The point I’m making here is that you can be the best equipped St Louis t-shirt printing company in the entire city, but if you’re not going to be able to sell it, you’re not going to be able to meet that monthly overhead that coincides with that new equipment.
I’ve always been of the opinion that regardless of how well you can do whatever type of business you happen to choose, nothing good is going to happen without the sale first. Although, marketing and sales go together, they are actually quite different from one another. Let’s look at the anatomy of a sale.
In my opinion, the most challenging part of the equation is trying to find a potential customer that happens to be currently in the market for whatever it is you happen to be selling. Example, you could be the very finest St Louis digital t-shirt printing company, but if you don’t have sales, you are pretty much out of business. You cannot pay for your overhead.
Okay, so let’s recap. Last time we touched on all the different aspects of
trying to start a successful campaign regarding opening up a St Louis
digital t-shirt printing company and where do you even start.
We also touched on the fact that knowledge is power but where do you
acquire this knowledge.
I mentioned that a good starting place would be to get on a major search
engine and do a relevant search such as “find the top 10 successful St Louis
screen printing and embroidery companies” and see who comes up on that first
landing page. It’s certainly no coincidence that you’re seeing the sites
that are there over the ones that are not. Look at how they are laid out.
You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel here. Just consider,
implementing some of the same strategies and formats that you’re viewing. I
also mentioned the fact that we are living in a digital age now where
pretty much anything you want to know is accessible as long as you know the
right questions to ask.
This week I’d like to concentrate on the aspect of sales and marketing
because in my opinion, that is the very most important aspect of any
business venture . Here’s an example. You could be the very best Saint
Louis custom embroidery company out there, but if no one can find you when
they do a relevant search, you are likely going to miss that bid
So once again, I want to emphasize how important it is to make sure that
your site is going to be on that first landing page. People’s attention
spans are very short. I’ve read that you have approximately 5 seconds to
capture their attention and if you don’t, they are going to click off your
site and on to someone else’s. So now that we identified where to start my
next blog will be various tips regarding your marketing strategies that
you’ll want to consider implementing.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be discussing how to run a
successful campaign, geared to the St. Louis screen printing and embroidery
market. For those of you who are entertaining the possibility of starting
your own clothing line or simply breaking into the digital t-shirt printing
industry, you might want to read this carefully. There’s so much to take
into consideration and you might be asking yourself, “Where and how do I
even start the process?”,
I would strongly advise that you start by prioritizing what to address first, and just educating yourself on this particular aspect of the business. Once you do this, then you can move on to the next aspect. Otherwise, I suspect it won’t be long before you’re completely overwhelmed and confused.
In other words, I would rather know a whole lot about a little, than know a little
bit of a lot. Fortunately, we live in a digital age where pretty much
anything you want to know can be accessed almost instantly. There are
valuable tutorials available on almost anything and everything, including
how to start a successful St Louis digital t-shirt printing company. One of
the things that these tutorials might not teach is not to do.
Some mistakes when starting a business can be very unforgiving and
difficult to overcome. Therefore, I would recommend that you study your
competitors, as they can teach you a great deal. Not just the ones who are
successful but also the ones who are not. I would rather learn from their
mistakes so I can potentially avoid making my own.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our ongoing conversations, regarding
upcoming blogs concerning marketing St. Louis digital t-shirt printing.