The Better Question
You were trained to ask three questions in order to sell promotional products: "How many do you need," "When do you need them" and "What's your budget?" Granted, these are important questions when you are selling stuff. Selling solutions and moving yourself out of the commodity space requires better questions.
Our fear of talking ourselves out of a product sale often keeps us from elevating our value equation. Our value equation is: what do we offer our customers that they can't get elsewhere? Our value equation separates from the price competition.
Are your customers just buying stuff? Or are they buying something more? Many of them are buying solutions to very real organizational problems. Promotional products can be great tools for helping solve problems. Problems like training new employees, like building a great brand image, like creating lasting memories, like reducing employee turnover. We solve problems like lost customers, like finding new customers, like getting customers to return and tell others.
A good question is "what is it that you want to achieve?" A good question is "who's behavior do you need to change?" A good question is "what will a successful promotion look like?"
When you sell promotional products, you are a brand builder. You are helping your customers create lasting impressions. You are helping them create a meaningful experience. To get better customers, to get more loyal customers—solve their problems. You can do that by asking better questions.
A better question is "How do you want the recipient to feel?" A better question is "how can we make this interaction with your customer meaningful to your customer?" Seth Godin said it best, "Great marketers don't make stuff. They make meaning."
Go out and make meaningful, memorable brand experiences for your customers. You'll do it when you ask better questions.