Take this fast crash course in samples and you'll be able to more effectively use them to accelerate your business.
Benefits of Samples
• Quality samples can help turn an unconvinced prospect into an eager client ready to buy. "Getting the product into the client's hands is extremely powerful," says AJ Dickson, bags senior category manager at Leed's (asi/66887). "When a person sees their logo come to life on a product, they get a real feel for the overall project."
• Using samples will result in less claims and returns. "Samples really help end-buyers understand what they are buying to avoid any disappointment or misunderstanding," says Rob Babb, VP of Sales, BIC Graphic North America (asi/40480).
• Physical samples are especially useful in helping buyers distinguish between items that look and sound the same in catalogs and websites. "The opportunity to feel the material and inspect the construction details helps you and your customer fully understand how appropriately and faithfully a (product) will display their brandmarks or messages," says John Cheevers, sales manager at Vantage Apparel (asi/93390).
"What are some attributes of good supplier sampling programs?"
• The ability to deliver blank and decorated samples.
• Fast turn times and quality decorating. "Getting a sample quickly, especially a spec sample, reinforces the care and quality that you can expect to receive in production," says Dickson.
• Free virtuals and vignettes/presentations.
• Free random samples for lower-priced items with a shipper number provided.
• Spec sample charge credited if an order is placed.
• The option to return samples or keep them at a discounted price.
"When do I use a virtual sample? When do I use a spec?"
Reps should opt for virtual samples first, and then progress to spec samples once a definite deal is in the works. "Spec samples are not for cold-calling," says Babb. "Rather, they help close the deal once the end-user sees the potential of the order and has a clear need and objective."To provide great spec samples, suppliers need:
• Quality vector artwork.
• Clients' brand guidelines, including information on colors.
• Specifics/parameters on end-buyers' goals and how they anticipate a product will be used. Such information influences a supplier's consultation on product selection and decoration.
• Information on client's budge. If the budget is sufficient, for example, suppliers can suggest more intricate decoration ideas that bring clients' brands to life in exciting ways they never imagined.