ColDesi Inc.

How to Grow Your Sales NEXT MONTH

[Sponsored by ColDesi Inc.]

Mark Stephenson is a digital marketing professional for ColDesi that has been producing written and video content in the custom apparel industry since 2011. He is also the co-host of the industry leading Custom Apparel Startups Podcast since 2015. Mark's knowledge of digital marketing for related comments and articles, as well as industry-specific pieces on digital printing, embroidery, and other custom apparel technologies. 

About this sponsor
ColDesi, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is a supplier of direct-to-garment printers, commercial embroidery machines, rhinestone machines, and the ProSpangle spangle transfer system. ColDesi also offers online and on-site training programs for those in the custom T-shirt, embroidery, and apparel decorating businesses. With more than 50 years in business, ColDesi is committed to helping people get started in or expand their custom apparel business. Visit www.coldesi.com for more information.

*Editor’s note: This article discusses topics covered in the Custom Apparel Startup Podcast. Listen to episodes 29, 30, and 31 for more information on each topic covered.

Emergency Tactics That Work Every Time

One of the most repeated questions from new members of the Custom Apparel Startups Facebook Group or listeners to the Custom Apparel Startups Podcast should tell you that you are not alone in asking:

“How do I get more sales?”

“How do I get more sales NOW?”

This question is universal across industry business segments. Embroidery, sign, promo products, awards, and engraving businesses all have the same concerns. There’s a mortgage payment, rent check, or grocery bill due next month and they have no business in the hopper that will help them make it.

Get Growing

There are three things you CAN do that will put the short-term sales numbers for your business in the hands of someone you know. Someone you trust. Someone who’s going to give their heart and soul to make sure you are successful. It’s you!

Now, these aren’t exotic, exciting digital marketing techniques that promise big returns for minimal effort. These are things that you can do without a computer science degree, today, that have a serious chance of bringing you sales today. And an even better chance of building sales for next month.

We’ve linked to a 60-minute podcast on each of these if you want to get more in-depth information and maybe a little motivation on top. Here they are in order of cash-in-hand opportunity.

Create active word of mouth: This phrase was specifically created for all of you that hate the “S” word: Sales! There is a real difference in perspective here that you need to absorb before you dismiss it out of hand.

The idea behind “active word of mouth” is going out and making sure that more people know what you do. Because for almost every one of our equipment customers, and almost every one of our podcast listeners, local business is 80–100 percent of sales.

The number of customers you have and the sales you get is some percent of that local business. If you look at your customer list by address or zip code, how many customers do you have within five miles of your business? 10 miles? It’s probably only a handful. That’s an opportunity!

Here’s the punch line:

  1. Make some samples and flyers, grab some business cards, and get in your car.

  2. Start from your business and drive down the busiest road that’s not a big highway.

  3. Stop at the FIRST business. Don’t rationalize a longer drive to a better spot. Stop at the first business. If you’re lucky it will be a strip mall or office building.

  4. Stop in, introduce yourself, show off what you do to whoever is up front and ask them if the company buys custom apparel or if they know anyone that does.

Do that for 20 businesses.

Everyone in each of those businesses owns shirts. If the business doesn’t need any, then every employee there knows someone on a team, at a church, part of a charity, in a bridal party, or something of the like. That’s an opportunity in every person. And multiple people in every business. It all starts with creating your own word of mouth.

If you want to pursue this strategy and hear some sample things to say, businesses that might be good to approach, and more, just listen to Episode 29 of the CAS Podcast here.

Get better on and with the phone: Don’t ignore this idea. Unless you’ve had phone-skills training or done inside sales in the last five years, it’s almost a guarantee that you can increase your closing ratio by optimizing what you say and how you say it on the phone. And this skill will help you generate sales for NEXT month AND for as long as you are in business. Here’s what to do:

1. Listen to yourself. The next time you take a customer/prospect call, do you sound like you’re happy they called? Are you fast to answer, cordial, and give them your company and your name, even if you’re busy when the phone rings? Studies show that the first few seconds often sets the tone for the whole relationship, and definitely leads to more sales per call.

2. Make it a meal. This is where you can really track the impact of your phone skills. Identify a few additional things that you can offer with every order. Suggest them 100 percent of the time! Think, “Make it a meal?” every time you talk to a customer about an order. McDonald’s made a huge impact on its sales by training cashiers to say “Large?” at every order and “Make it a Meal” adds dollars to every fast food chain you can think of.  What’s your “meal” bundle? Here are a few quick ideas:

  • Offer a second placement every time.

  • Put together a deal if they add caps, koozies, or bags, etc., to their embroidered polo order.

  • Ask them if they would like to look at an upgraded blank.

You’ll be surprised at how many people say yes. After all, who goes to McDonald’s and doesn’t get a meal? Imagine making an extra 20 or 30 percent in sales next month just because you ask!

3. Call your customers. If you’re in business at all, you have customers. Call them. Ask how they’re doing. See if they need any more shirts. Then ask them if they know any other businesses or organizations that buy custom apparel that they’d be willing to recommend to you.  That’s it. It works especially well if you have something new or different to talk about.

“Hey, it’s John from the T-shirt place. I just had a great idea for your next order! Have you thought about adding prints to the sleeves? We just did that for someone and it looks great.”

If you’re not accustomed to using the phone it can be a little intimidating, but it’s very profitable and will help you sell more next month. It can be scary for some people. During this podcast, we go through a few things you can say that might help you get started: Episode 30 of the CAS Podcast.

4. Email your people: Every single business owner we talk to has the attitude that if they send emails to their customers they’ll be “bothering” them. “I hate to get all those emails. I don’t want to do that to my customers.” And I guarantee their own email inbox is full of stuff from Home Depot, Amazon, or any one of the very, very, very successful companies out there that send emails to their potential customers. Do you know WHY they send those emails?  Because they work! 

They work so well that some companies have increased the number of emails they send out to as much as every day. Have you heard from Printwear magazine lately? Of course, you have. They send emails every day. And if you’re reading this there’s a 99 percent chance that you get those emails every day, open them, and click on what you find interesting. Don’t you want to give your customers and your business that same opportunity?

The truth is that email isn’t perceived the same way it was even five years ago. If you sent out a daily email five years ago you would be added to spam lists across the country. And probably banned from emailing by many service providers.

Today, people just don’t care as much. They’re so used to getting emails they don’t even add the most frequent senders to their junk lists; they just delete the emails they’re not interested in.

There is no downside to communicating with your customers/prospects by email. That being said, don’t start with daily emails, but do send something this week that gives customers the chance to buy something from you this week or next.

Here are a few quick ideas:

1. Send your customers a thank you email, even if it’s been a while since the order. “Hey Bob, I just realized I never said thanks for the last order. I really appreciate the business. Let me know if you are working on anything now that I can help with.”

2. Send them an announcement about a new service or new “Make it a Meal Bundle” idea.

3. Most popular products email. These are great and simple. Just pick the five things you sell the most of and put them in an email “5 Most Popular Custom T-Shirt Ideas” and send them out.

Here’s the thing about email. It’s practically free. You can do it yourself. You can do it right now. It will make you money. Writing a good email is a skill just like the phone skills you already read about. And you should learn a bit about it and plan on getting better at it over time.

So, don’t use a lack of skill or the fear of bugging your customers as excuses not to do it. Listen to Episode 31 of the CAS Podcast if you need some pointers or inspiration, but don’t delay! Remember, the point is to make money this month!