We all have to make sales in order for our businesses to survive, much less thrive. Many apparel decoration professionals struggle to be effective at prospecting. So much so that many business owners never seem to get around to intentionally doing it at all.
Without doing any prospecting to bring in new business, you are leaving the success of your business up to chance or to fate. If another order comes to you, you will earn money. When you engage in prospecting, the odds tip in your favor. You have changed the chances from “if” an order comes in to “when” an order comes in. It is a numbers game, plain and simple. The more times you reach out and interact with people and businesses about your business, the more likely it is that you will connect with someone that has a current need for custom decorated products or apparel, which you can fulfill.
I define prospecting as any effort you make to reach out to your community and target customer bases to catch their attention and remind them that you are in business, ready to create custom goods and apparel specifically for their needs. This is a rather broad definition. It includes all the social media posts you create and share for your business. It includes any emails you send out to your lists. It includes any sales calls that you make on the phone or in person. It includes all the interactions you have in person with potential and existing customers.
Here is the secret that I want to share with you. Stop the “chit chat” and get right to the point, whenever you can. Let me explain. You know how you can ALWAYS tell when it is a salesperson calling when you answer the phone? These calls always sound the same. They say, “Hi Mrs. Smith, it’s John Doe calling from ABC Company. How are you today?”
We know they mean well, but it is highly doubtful that they really care about how you are doing. Frankly, I usually do not have time to waste on social chit-chat when I am working, particularly with someone that A) I do not know; and B) is trying to sell me something.
When you are in sales mode, you do not need to start with meaningless chit chat. Instead, I propose that you need to get to the point. Let the other person know why you are calling, from their perspective. Tell them how they will benefit if they keep talking with you, continue reading your email, or scrolling down on your post.
It seems that many people are trying to do more in less time these days. This is even more true as we reach the end of the year. People are stretched thin, as there are gaps in the work force in nearly every single industry. I am not suggesting that you should be curt, abrupt or rude. The goal is to respect the time of the person with whom you are communicating. Cut to the chase quickly and present the advantages or benefits you offer.
If you use the “Hi, how are you today?” approach, you may find that your results improve dramatically once you take a more direct approach. It may take a lot of practice in the beginning, but you will usually find that the executives and business owners you call on do not seem to mind or even notice.
Craft a statement that you can use to introduce yourself over the phone and in person that follows this format: [What you offer] so that [how they benefit].
If you are speaking with a retail business owner, your introduction might go like this: I/we (some version of) create custom apparel and products so that (some version of) your customers can quickly identify a salesperson if they need assistance or are they ready to make a purchase.
Look through your client base and identify the different categories of customers that you serve or want to serve. Your categories will be unique to your business. They could include retail businesses, service businesses, skilled trades businesses, restaurants, manufacturing, schools, clubs, non-profits, weddings, family gatherings, horse people, Volkswagen people, medical practices, hospitals, universities, sports teams, baby gifts, gun collectors, doll collectors – the list is endless as embroidery and apparel decoration professionals serve literally every single industry!
Evaluate which of these categories may be better served with a more direct, benefits-driven conversation instead of a more social, “Hi, how are you doing,” kind of conversation. Craft and then practice statements for your specific categories. I would use one introduction when meeting with a person that owns a HVAC business for the first time. I would use a different statement when I meet the office manager of a dental practice, as these two categories have unique and very different needs.