8 Things That Scare the Crap Out of Promotional Product Distributors

Funny ghost.

When it comes to fears, promotional product distributors have a lot of them… and we get it. In this digital age of price-cutters and steep competition, the list of fears and concerns seemingly grows everyday.

To help you battle your demons, Customer Focus asked a group of promotional product distributors to list the top things that scare the crap out of them. We’ve listed them here and provided you with remedies for each. So take a deep breathe in and exhale, it’s not as scary as you think…or is it? (Maniacal laugh). Read on, if you dare.

Fear #1: “Bad reviews. There is always one (sometimes more than one) customer for which nothing goes right no matter how diligently you try to make everything perfect. It terrifies me that they will bad mouth me anyway.”

This is a common fear of nearly every business owner. In a 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey, 88% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business. While nearly 9 out of 10 said they trusted an online review as much as a personal recommendation.

Rather than being fearful, take the power into your own hands by reaching out to customers and asking them to leave you an online review. People will typically only leave reviews when they’ve had a bad experience, unless they’re asked or reminded to do so by the company. And if you fall subject to a negative review, follow these steps for damage control:

  • Apologize
  • Give a brief summary of what happened and why
  • Explain what you’re doing to fix the problem
  • Thank customers for their patience and support

Fear #2: “Every time the phone rings, I worry I am losing my biggest customer. How can I secure my most important customers?”

This may seem like a no-brainer but customer service can go a long way. Ensure your business and employees are easy to deal with, responsive and polite. The words, “thank you”, can go a long way. Empower your customers by asking questions to ensure their needs are met and they are fully satisfied. After all, dissatisfied customers tell seven to ten people, while satisfied customers only tell an average of one person.

It’s also essential for you to consistently build a relationship with your customers so you can ask for a reorder and renew the value of your product(s)/service. Sometimes you have to resell your product or service, and remind them why they came to you in the first place. “When we first talked, you told me … Is that still true? Did we deliver on that? What’s important now?” Reorders are just as important and profitable as new ones. It can also be beneficial to offer a discount or coupon.

Fear #3: “I can find the products I sell in loads of places cheaper, I worry that I am not being the cheapest. How do I compete?”

When your competitors are just a keyword search away, you have to set yourself up as an expert by locality. You can do this by:

  • Adding the list of cities you serve in the footer of your website
  • Embedding key SEO terms in your URL, H1 tag and within your page content

We have an upcoming webinar on this exact fear, entitled “How to Beat Local Competitors and Price-Cutters”. We reveal how to beat local competitors, including price-cutters, by focusing your activities on the specific skills and strengths they lack. Click here to register.

Fear #4: “I lose orders because online sellers can sell at a loss. Is it true that they sell at a loss and because they have so much money?”

First, let’s address the assumption that online sellers are selling at a loss. They’re not. Online sellers typically have a reduced number of suppliers’ products on their websites, and receive reduced (EQP) pricing from those suppliers because of their loyalty and repeat business. They pass those savings on to their customers.

They have lower overheads, because they’re leveraging technology to make sales for them – which is almost always cheaper than hiring sales people. With lower overheads they can afford to sell on a tighter margin – say 25% rather than 40%. For these two reasons, the eCommerce-enabled distributor is able to sell cheaper than other distributors.

It’s a model you can emulate, if you choose; we’ll be writing additional content on both how to go about successfully selling online, and how you can keep adding value as a consultant at the same time.

Fear #5: “As a rep I am only as good as my last order, I seem to have no job security. How do I feel like it’s a career and not a day by day thing?”

Keep your eyes on the prize by thinking of new and creative ways to not only retain existing customers but also gain new ones. Email marketing remains the most exercised marketing tool in both B2B and B2C marketing, as: 91% of consumers use email at least once a day (source: ExactTarget).

The key to successful email marketing is to build a relationship first, by offering educational and entertaining content before you ask for a sale. Take the time to understand their differing needs (segmenting your database is important!) and always make sure you’re delivering genuine value.

Fear #6: “I worry that as my customer are my age (62) they are soon going to retire and the assistants all seem to be young; and they just want to buy on the internet.”

Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce in 2020, and 75% in 2025. They’re already responsible for up to 89% of business related purchase decisions! Click here to see the 7 things your website needs to sell to millennials.

Fear #7: “As a distributor not being in control and having to rely on my suppliers is tough. Expedited shipping scares me. No matter how much I may check on an order I have had instances where it still shipped ground even with my expedited requests. I’m on edge all the time for hitting event dates and not having the control.”

Working with a trusted network of suppliers will help to alleviate this fear. Think quality over quantity. You can drastically reduce the number of suppliers you work with without compromising on choice; if a supplier drops the ball, they go on the non-preferred list, while you stick with the companies you know to be reliable.

Reducing the number of suppliers you work with will not only make things easier for you to maintain, but will make the buying experience for your customer better as well.

Giving customers too many choices can overwhelm them and lead to fewer sales. When you have 500 pages of pens, your prospects have to go through an exhausting and anxiety-inducing decision-making process.

Not convinced? Try comparing the number of your products to the number of products on Vistaprint or 4imprint and ask yourself whether your customers would find it easier to make a decision on their site, or on yours. Reduced number of suppliers = #winning!

Fear #8: “Safety and material content issues and getting sued for an unintentional injury scares me.”

Picking the right suppliers might be the most important decision you make. You want supplier partners that are good at more than just decorating the product. Working with QCA Accredited suppliers increases buying confidence because it protects brand equity throughout the entire supply chain: from the promotional products supplier, through the distributor, to the end buyer and ultimately to the final end user.

o-POOP-EMOJI-ICE-CREAM-facebookNow that wasn’t too scary, was it? If you have any other things that “scare the crap out of you”, please comment below and I will address them in my next blog post!

To find out more about Customer Focus, or to get a free trial site set up, please click here.

2 Responses to “8 Things That Scare the Crap Out of Promotional Product Distributors

  • # 1 problem with most distributors is being afraid of full pricing. If you service your client with proff samples , new ideas and great samples , don’t be afraid to get a full markup- You have to make money just like your clients do.

    I lose some based on price , but those I would not really make any money on .

  • If you’re concerned about changing paying patterns and demographics leading more buyers heading straight to the online retails, you have to invest in your own online presence. Not every distributor can afford a robust, impressive website, but they can afford an effective and lead-generating social media presence.

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