ASI Dallas Show Floor Opens
Thousands of eager distributors poured onto the show floor this morning at ASI Dallas searching for the hottest promotional items. Read Article
Counselor’s cameras were right in the middle of the action to interview attendees and find out their show floor plans. What markets are distributors targeting this year? What’s their pitch to prospects? What product categories are they focused on?
The Joe Show: Day One
Managing Editor Joe Haley went on the hunt today for the most interesting products at ASI Dallas. What caught his eye? How can these items help you boost sales in 2014? Read Article
Click here to watch the Day One Joe Show from Big D.
Distributors Spill The Secrets For Fast Growth
In “Secrets of Fastest-Growing Distributors,” an Education Day session at ASI Dallas, the panelists agreed that carving a unique niche in the marketplace will put distributors on the road to success. Read Article
“What are you best at?” asked Brad White, vice president of sales for Top 40 firm Boundless Network (asi/143717). “What’s the one thing that makes you unique to your clients? Focus on that.”
That was one of many tips offered by session panelists in detailing ways to spur fast growth. Another key theme was being a consultative seller who knows the client inside and out, rather than just being a seller of products. Mark Roggenkamp, senior vice president of marketing for Top 40 firm Safeguard Business Systems (asi/316203), cited a scenario where a client asks for a quote on a project and distributors race to get the information. “How many of you stopped and asked the customer what do they want to do with that item?” Roggenkamp said.
Cliff Quicksell, president of Cliff Quicksell & Associates and sales consultant for Top 40 firm iPROMOTEu (asi/232119), cited the biggest mistake distributors make in trying to achieve growth as “not having a plan in place and trying to do too much too quick.” The panelists agreed that owners can try to take on too much at once, and that services and partnerships are available to relieve the burden in those situations. “Are you alone going to drive results through marketing?” said White. “If not, there are a million services out there you can turn to.”
Company culture was regarded as important, too, and the thought extended to the overall attitude of the distributor owner or sales rep in jump-starting their companies. “When you approach all this opportunity, do you think ‘This is a lot of work?’ or ‘This is exciting,’” said Scott Sutton, vice president of franchise development for Safeguard. “Mindset is important.”
Become A Powerful Presenter
Want to avoid the brochure barf and power point paralysis that cripples one-on-one presentations? Conversational interaction is the way to go, said Troy Harrison in his Education Day presentation, “Command the Room: Become a Powerful Presenter” at ASI Dallas. One-on-one presentations come to a screeching halt if you don’t treat your prospect like a human being and talk to him directly. “Focus on the dialog between you and your customer,” said Harrison, the owner of SalesForce Solutions.
Harrison touched on three key elements of becoming an ace presenter: content, one-on-one techniques and group presentations. “And content should really be one, two and three,” he said. The content of the presentation should be geared to the customer’s current situation, then offering recommendations and citing the advantages of following through on those suggestions. You present the result that will help your client, and not the “product.” Harrison said that while many salespeople concentrate on the client’s pain points, there is lucrative opportunity to take something that the client does well and try to make it better. “Part of a powerful presentation is the courage to admit your customers are doing something right,” he said.
Successful sellers use their presentations to paint a word picture that allows prospects to envision their success. These are part of what Harrison terms “achievement statements” that show the ways to achieve the desired result. By envisioning that success, prospects buy in and get excited about what can be accomplished. “Make sure the customer is mentally agreeing with you,” said Harrison.
Win The Attention Of Today’s Buyers
Getting noticed by top prospects requires more than just a creative product pitch – it takes personality and pizzazz, according to Don Sanders, one of the Education Day speakers at the ASI Show Dallas. In his session, “Grow Your Customer Base: Prospecting and Retention Strategies,” Sanders emphasized the importance of building a personal brand that’s engaging and even unexpected.
“I have a bomb shelter outside of my house and I’ll send prospects photos of it in e-mails,” said Sanders, owner of Don Sanders Marketing (asi/318050). “They want to know what that is. Then I know I’ve got them and I can sell them.”
Sanders acknowledged his taste in real estate is unusual, as is his Mohawk-wearing, loud shoe style. Still, he believes there are few simple things all distributors can do to stand out from their competition and earn a closer look from customers. First, he says, ditch the paper business card and go for something unique like a screen cleaner, calling coin or post-it note. Second, highlight something about yourself that’s uncommon – like a talent or hobby – and seek out customers that share your interests. And third, use a series of offbeat self-promos to soften more challenging targets.
“I go after big accounts through repetitive mailings of cool products,” Sanders said. “I’ll send the same product four weeks in a row and people will think I’m crazy, but some will want to get to know me.”
Sanders also told session attendees they can differentiate themselves by actually charging more than other distributor firms. “I never show price,” he said. “If people complain about cost I’ll ask them what they think a fair price is and that shocks them. I’ll tell them I’ll give them a better deal if they give me their credit card right then. If they don’t, they’re paying the catalog price.”
Finally, Sanders explained his approach to networking, which includes contributing time and money to organizations to gain access to parties, events and potential clients. “I only deal with people who can buy from me,” Sanders said. “If they can’t, I’ll excuse myself from the conversation and move on.”
Marketing Secrets From Big Brands
“Shift your thinking about how you market your clients. What you should do is tell your clients’ stories,” said Bobby Lehew, chief marketing officer at Robyn Promotions (asi/309656), during his session, “Get Super-Creative: Steal Marketing Tips From Big Brands” at ASI Dallas. “Who is the hero of your stories? Your client. They’ll look at how you market for them in a whole new way because you’re looking at the world from their point of view.”
Here are Lehew’s top tips, gleaned from marketing strategies of top brands:
1. Market prior to and post-event. “Use these particular touch points around your clients’ events to reach their target audience,” said Lehew, noting that doing so will create more of a connection with them.
2. Follow Apple's marketing philosophy from 1977. “Steve Jobs pushed the idea of empathy, which is an intimate connection with the customer’s feelings,” Lehew said. “So, do you understand how your client empathizes with their customers?” Figure it out, and tell that story. In addition, Jobs said that Apple's mission was to eliminate “clutter” from its clients’ lives. “In our industry, your job is to think about what you're doing for your clients,” Lehew said. “Pick the top performing campaigns and products and cut out the rest.”
3. Follow Apple's marketing philosophy from 1997. “Jobs said, ‘It’s not what computers can do; it’s what people can do with computers,” Lehew said. “So ask yourself what story your client’s brand does – how does it impact their clients? Consider those stories.”
4. Use e-mail marketing. Lehew pointed out that Teddy Goff, digital director for the Obama campaign, said that e-mail marketing is unparalleled in its ability to achieve results. “My biggest tip to you is to use e-mail marketing to reach your clients and on their behalf,” he said. “And, tell their success stories in those e-mails. You won’t believe your results.”
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