Here are some examples and some different ways to identify and then meet your customer’s needs.
A customer requests a quote for shirts for their sales force working at a trade show.
- Normal response: Offer them a classic golf shirt or dress shirt with a left-chest logo.
- Better approach: Ask about the trade show. Where is it being held? Is there a theme at the show? What does the company’s exhibit booth or space look like? What colors will be prominent in the show or their booth? When you have a better vision of the environment, you can propose shirt colors and styles that will either help their staff stand out (contrasting bold colors, larger logos, atypical logo placements) or complement the setting (crisp twill shirt that works with booth colors and a tailored left-chest logo).
Your customer wants a quote for goods for the company’s golf outing.
- Typical response: Offer them a golf towel or golf shirt with a left-chest logo.
- Better approach: Ask them to tell you more about the outing. Is the customer playing with their customers or employees? Is the event recreational or a business development opportunity? Are they offering prizes or gifts to every golfer? Are spouses playing or invited to attend after the round? By getting the bigger picture, you may find an opportunity to sell them shirts for every participant, or maybe even some prizes or parting gifts.
Your customer emails you for a quote for sweatshirts.
- Normal response: Hooded or pullover? What color? How many of each size? What decoration is going on it?
- Better approach: What do they need them for? You’re asking so that you can make sure you quote them on the right kinds of products. Are these for staff, customers, family members, or something else? Let’s get them set up with exactly what they need.
Your customer contacts you about jackets.
- Typical response: What style, how many of each size, what do they want on them?
- Better approach: Great, who are these for? Service reps out in the field, management, or customer service reps in the office? You’re asking so you can recommend jackets that will hold up best based on when and where they will be worn. There is a huge difference in functionality between a rugged canvas jacket and a three-season jacket with the removable lining.
By recommending and then providing product solutions designed to meet their specific needs, you are functioning at a level well beyond that of an embroiderer.
When you engage this strategy regularly, you will become a trusted team player and a valuable resource for your customers. You become a problem solver of sorts, not just an apparel decorator. Ideally, your customers will begin to turn to you and say something like, “What I am trying to do is X. What do you suggest?” By working with your customers and seeing their inquiries about possible orders from their point of view, you will develop long-term relationships. At that point, you are selling much more than a bunch of embroidered shirts.
—National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP)