Knowledge is power
Phil Morgan, CEO of SPS, shares his advice on staying ahead.
In my youth, I kept myself out of trouble by playing squash. And I was pretty good, to be honest, ranking seventh in the country at one point. I spent hours and hours practising, seven days a week. In the end, I left it all behind for the glamorous world of promotional products, but I did bring a valuable lesson with me: you’ll never get good at anything unless you keep on learning!
It’s the same in any industry. When you want to be at the top of your game, it’s all about the knowledge: knowledge of your products, knowledge of your customers and knowledge of the competition. Once you stop learning, you stop moving forwards, and might even move backwards.
When it comes to promotional products, there’s a lot to learn, so where do you start?! Here are a few tips you might find of use.
Know your products. Good buyers can spot a blagger very quickly, so take the time to educate yourself and your team, and commit to continuous learning. Think about all the questions you might get asked about a product: Where was it made? What’s the material? How will my logo look? What’s the best product for me? What about certification?
The suppliers in this industry are taking great strides to help educate distributors, through seminars, training programmes, data sheets, etc, so take the time to invest in the knowledge of your salesforce – even take them out to meet your suppliers. One of the reasons our Bootcamps are so popular is because it involves taking a sales team out of their ordinary environment and into a place where they’re immersed in production processes, branding techniques and product detail. Bootcamp visitors leave our site exhausted but packed full of knowledge and enthusiasm – even excitement!
Know your customers. You can’t know every customer individually so consider the Pareto Law and concentrate on your most valuable customers first: What makes them tick? What are they buying? What aren’t they buying? What are they going elsewhere for?
Taking the time to get to know your key customers will help you build stronger relationships, and also help you identify trends which might just be replicated across more of your database – pretty valuable information!
Know where your future customers are. Your top customers now could create a blueprint for your future success stories, so take the time to build up profiles of your most profitable customers so that you can go out and find more. Is there a certain industry starting to spend more on promotional items? Where in the country, or even the world, are your web visitors coming from? Who has recently started following you on social media? These trends give you some fantastic clues on where to go next in the market.
As a supplier, we’re always learning too… about hot new products, new ways to brand products, new ways to serve our customers. One of the most exciting things about being a manufacturer is the freedom to innovate in the market and create brand new products, learning more about the market and ourselves with each new product we release. So my advice: get learning, get your team learning (and get booked on a Bootcamp!).