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Promo Talk: Kim Bakalyar, PromoShop

Candid opinions from industry pros.

Kim Bakalyar

  • Chief Compliance Officer/Director of Vendor Relations
  • PromoShop (asi/300446)
  • 36 Years Industry Experience

What I Wish I Knew When I Started …
There’s no “How To” manual that answers all industry questions. Everything depends. Every order is different, and there are so many variables – you can’t account for them all. I’m still learning something new every day.

What Frustrates Me the Most …
Duplicating effort. If I’m tasked with handling something, like an order or a problem, that means that I handle it. I don’t have to always contact the vendor too – it just complicates things. Also, give me more than one minute to do it. And please read the entire email before responding. Most likely the answer is in the second sentence.

I’ll Never Do That Again …
Cold call. I had a chance to try sales early on in the industry. My first order was $30,000. My next 10 were barely $200. I literally curled up and cried every time I had to cold call. I’ll sell anyone if they walk in the door, just don’t make me go out and get them. I’m much better behind the scenes.

If I Were Queen of the Industry …
All inside customer service reps would have a solid six months to a year of foundation before they start working one-on-one with a salesperson. And the salespeople would accept, respect and love it. Also, all vendors would have their compliance and testing docs on their website.

What I Wish I Could Say to a Client …
Lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part! I understand that the end-user doesn’t always plan ahead. Let’s help them with that. Don’t sit on it until it becomes a rush. Having time isn’t a bad thing.

Best Advice I Received …
CYA: Cover Your Ass. Have everything in writing, even in our technology-crazed world where we’re shipping in 24 hours. If all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed and you have the name of the person you spoke to, that will help avoid issues, as well as resolve them if they happen. And no one can point the finger at you.

What Suppliers Can Do Better …
Internal communication and saying no if necessary. If your customer service person is telling us they can do something, then they need to make sure that happens, especially if it isn’t their department. See if it can be done before you tell us it can. Nothing is more frustrating than finding out the day before the order ships that the art is a transfer and those are outsourced, so the order won’t ship for five days.

Most Overrated Trend …
Name-brand drinkware. Everyone has a knockoff YETI, S’well or Hydro Flask. Enough already!

Stereotype About Salespeople I Hate the Most …
They don’t really work and they make a lot of money. Being on the inside, you know what the commission is on an order and you think, “Wow!” People think salespeople can come and go as they please, and take vacations whenever they want. I sold early on and I realized how hard they work and how long it takes to make it in this business. The successful ones work really hard and earn every penny!

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