Head of Her Class
Look for shortcuts. Always ask yourself, ‘How can I make this task easier,’ and be willing to delegate. You can’t be great at everything. Concentrate on what you do best, and dump or delegate the rest. This doesn’t have to be a big expense. You can start out with part-time help. Some of my best assistants have been college students or mothers with grade school children.
Another work-smarter strategy I believe in is having a preferred supplier list. I would suggest picking three to five suppliers from each of the top-selling industry categories and focus on them. You’ll be more familiar with the lines they sell, qualify for better pricing and have a lot less paperwork and stress. This doesn’t mean you can’t work with other suppliers outside of your preferred list, it just means this is who you are going to do the bulk of your business with.
PM: What are some of your top sales-boosting techniques that distributors can put into action now?
RM: Concentrate on markets that can give you larger orders and repeat business. When I first started out, I thought everyone was a good prospect for me and consequently, I spent a lot of time on small, once-a-year orders.
If you’re not sure what industries can give you large orders and repeat business, look at the top five buyers of promotional products: education, healthcare, not-for-profit organizations, financial and government. If you go after one of those markets intelligently, by learning as much as possible about their needs ahead of time, your sales will take off.
Another great selling strategy is to form alliances with people who serve the same target market, but are not direct competitors, such as meeting planners, graphic designers and trade show display companies. Look for ways to refer business to each other. I call this leveraging. You can spend hours making cold calls or you can spend time forming alliances and get business to come to you.