Making Your Distributorship More Consultative

by | Jun 3, 2014

Okay so this title of the blog will likely not make it the most read article of my career, but I think there might be some value for those of us in the Promotional Products industry.  Here is an email I received and my response.  Enjoy!

Just got 5 copies of your book for the team here…. Looks like it will be an interesting read.

Have you tried to position your company as a hybrid advertising agency/SWAG supplier? 

I’m looking at focusing on more of the service side of the business, creating stories/case studies to help achieve clients marketing objectives.  Moving away from just an order taker to consultative sell.  Initial feedback from some of clients has been positive but getting them to action this has been a little tougher.  Any tips?

First things first, thanks for purchasing the book!  I appreciate it.  Hope you like it! 

I would say we have worked to be a “hybrid” as you mentioned.  We have a marketing consulting side of the business as well as a video production team.  That being said, the biggest part of our business remains the promotional products side.

As for tips, I would say “keep after it.”  If you are switching more to a consultative style of selling, you can’t make that switch over night.  My guess is, some of your sales team may never make it!  It just depends.  But the key, I think, is to keep showing up in the market like this every day.

Keep asking questions…sometimes this is the hardest.  When someone says they want to order t-shirts, it’s hard not to just say “great” and walk out with the order.  But if you ask, “why are you doing t-shirts?” or “How are you delivering the t-shirts” or to who “will they be going?” etc. you might find new opportunities to serve them.  You might find that t-shirts is not the best item for them to use.  It’s possible that they have not thought of delivery, etc.

Be willing to recommend something else.  I was talking to Mark Graham (from Commonsku) the other day about this.  If we really want to be consultants, we need to be willing to recommend something else if it fits better.  Hopefully there is a promotional products play too, but if not, tell them.  This hurts (for sure) in the short term, but will pay in the short term.

I think a Promotional industry full of consultants not only makes our companies stronger…it makes the industry stronger as well.


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