How to Increase Your Sales and Customer Base

Effective and proven strategies.

Do you recall how you felt when you landed your first decent-sized order for embroidered goods? It’s a moment  that many remember, often because it’s a more profitable order than so many other orders you have created. It’s a great feeling — you just made some decent money, and that’s exciting!

However, getting more orders like that to continue to roll in can be challenging. You know businesses in your community are buying decorated apparel.

The question is, how do you get them to buy those products from you? How do you create a sales strategy to bring in these profitable orders, week after week and month after month?

The way to accomplish this is to use sales strategies that work. In this article, you’ll find four strategies you can use to build your decorated apparel sales.

1. Go back

One of the easiest strategies to implement is to go back to previous, even silent, clients who have not purchased anything from you in a while and give them a good reason to start buying from you again. Review your past client list, design a specific offer, and present it to your best and past customers. Be sure to build in a method to track the effectiveness of your offer.

If your list of people to contact is small (maybe less than 50), pick up the phone and set up a time to meet with them in person. If you want to reactivate more than 50 customers, send a direct mail piece, a letter, a postcard, or an email.

Wait a day or two, then call the top 50 after reaching out to them in writing. Tailor your offer to something they ordered previously or include something that will go with their previous apparel order. Here’s the important part: keep track of what you do and how it works. If you find something that works, one specific email or a specific group of clients that responds better than the rest, build upon this success so you can repeat it, getting these better results.

Once you have an email or call script that works well, use it regularly to go back and connect with customers you haven’t heard from in a while. Due to the nature of decorated apparel and how wardrobes need to change with the seasons (at least in many regions of the country), if nothing else, you can reach out and offer spring, summer, fall, and winter apparel choices with very little creative thought required!

2. Lowest hurdle

It is a rare business indeed that truly has no need for an embroidered shirt for at least the owners to wear occasionally. They may wear suits to work all week, or they may wear industrial apparel uniforms all week, but Saturday does come around every seven days. And if they own a business, they likely have an interest in wearing a casual shirt with their logo on it occasionally. This applies to men and women!

Many apparel decoration business owners let random chance dictate their first sale with a new customer. When you are connecting with a business owner for the first time, one of the first products to show them would be a mid- to high-quality sport shirt, presented in their company colors or in a color that their logo would look nice on.

Do not show them something that would clash with their branding! Once you get their logo digitized for embroidery on sports shirts, they are now primed and ready to be shown dress shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, caps, and all the other products and apparel you offer.

3. Making up

In the rare instance where a customer complains or even cancels an order, view this as an opportunity rather than a setback. This can be a prime chance for you to make a profit and cement a long-term relationship with a solid makeup or win-back offer.

Here is what you say when you get the complaint: “(Name), thank you for telling me about how we messed up. Forgive us for our mistake. I don’t blame you for wanting to cancel the order to teach us a lesson. If this happened to me, I’d have been even more upset than you are! May I make it up to you?”

When they say yes, offer them a special gift such as a discount or certificate toward their next order or add a bonus item that they weren’t expecting. And obviously, you should correct the original mistake that caused the dissatisfaction in the first place.

The key is to try to close and save the current sale and give them a good enough reason to come back to you for another order. Remember, the most expensive thing that could happen is that they cancel the order and never order from you again, leaving them with a negative experience. This leaves you at risk of bad reviews and negative word of mouth.

The best thing you can do is win the customer over and bring them back as a satisfied customer. Regaining their trust and confidence with a generous win-back offer is much less expensive than the potential business lost from a poor reputation in your community.

You also need to work with your staff to determine the cause of the customer’s unhappiness so it can be avoided in the future. Some of the most common causes are poor communication, the sharing of wrong information, or missed deadlines — all of which are completely preventable.

4. Referrals

We all know that we should ask for referrals, but the truth is that we rarely actually do it. You have a real opportunity to increase your sales and serve an even wider customer base simply by asking for referrals.
Start by looking at where your current referrals come from. Is there a way to streamline what is already happening? Maybe you can create a certificate or coupon that you give to existing customers with every order.

When that certificate is turned in by a new customer, you then send the original customer a coupon or special offer. The goal is to motivate your current customers to share the offer with their peers by a certain date. Any time a customer compliments your business or says how much they love the product or working with you, respond like this: “Thank you for that great compliment, [Insert Name Here]. May I ask, who are two other business owners you know who you think would be interested in looking sharp?” And then be quiet and let them think, and ideally share some names with you as referrals.

This is a simple, direct, and professional way to ask for referrals. Try it — you have nothing to lose, and you may gain some great new customers.

Getting more profitable decorated apparel orders is well within your reach. Your successes are hard-won. It feels great to win these orders. By using strategies that are proven to work to generate more sales, your business will grow — both in terms of your customer base and your long-term profits.

jennifer cox

Jennifer Cox

Jennifer Cox is one of the founders and serves as president of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), an organization that supports embroidery and apparel decoration professionals with programs and services designed to increase profitability and production.

View all articles by Jennifer Cox  

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