Beat Websites, Price-Cutters With Smart Prospecting

Savvy distributors understand the unique value they provide and then leverage that to turn qualified prospects into customers and, ultimately, loyal clients. That was a central theme in “Crush Your Competition: Beat Websites, Local Distributors and Price Cutters” – an education session that veteran industry sales coach David Blaise led Wednesday morning at ASI Show Dallas.

Web-based sellers of promotional products have provided stiff new competition to boots-on-the-ground distributors. Still, most sites function at what Blaise describes as the base two levels of the five-level pyramid of promotional product sales – the levels of order-taking and product-peddling.

Distributor sales pros, however, can provide value websites can’t, Blaise said, by mastering the next three levels of the pyramid. These involve building strong relationships with clients, consulting customers in a way that meets their specific need with the right services/products, and by consistently nurturing the account with proactive planning and creative ideas that invigorate customers’ marketing efforts. “By operating at these levels, you can get to a six-figure, executive-level income,” Blaise told attendees.

Additionally, when encountering objections like “I found this cheaper online,” distributors should point out that they provide assurances that many websites might not. “Sow the seeds of doubt about what they think they’re purchasing,” said Blaise. “Ask them, ‘Who’s accountable if something goes wrong?’ ‘Do you have a dedicated rep?’ ‘Does the vendor you’re considering guarantee the product meets compliance standards?’” After raising such questions, talk about the specific services you provide that show how you’ll make the client’s life easier, not least of all by giving them peace of mind.

By exceling at consultative selling and account nurturing, distributors can also keep price-cutters and other competitors at bay, said Blaise. Clients will be much less likely to look elsewhere if you’re providing them with excellent service and solutions that generate results. That’s why it’s essential that distributors continually work to hone their craft and the processes they rely on to service accounts. “When we do what we do, as well as we can do it, we make our competition invisible,” said Blaise. “They don’t register on our customers’ radar.”

Also key: Seek to work with clients who want what you have to offer. The reality is, some companies are just out for the lowest price – or may not even have a budget, or need, for promotional products. Before wasting time pursuing just anyone, pre-qualify the potential lead to determine if they really are a legitimate prospect. Look to work with people who not only need branded merchandise, but who also want the personalized, creative service you provide. “Time is our most valuable investment,” said Blaise. “Spend it in front of worthwhile prospects.”