September '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 59 of 120

2 0 1 5 S E P T E M B E R P R I N T W E A R || 53 4. What have you done in the past? Asking this may seem like opening Pandora's Box, but the information gathered here can make or break your success. They may share that the previ- ous supplier was always late with the orders, or that they were nickel and dimed with shipping fees, or they did not like the look of the design or the garments. This information enables you to demonstrate how working with you will be different and better. 5. Is there money in the budget for this? If they do not have a budget, is this a real potential customer? Possibly not. Here is your chance to help them establish a budget for when they will order. Keep in mind that you will not want to offer top of the line products (and prices) if they are working with a low-end budget. When you ask the questions above, you are determining if they have the funds to place an order and if they have a great enough need to spend the money now or soon. If they are willing to al- locate the money and their level of need is high enough, they are indeed a great potential customer. It is then time to take the next step. The question to ask them now is this, "What do you think is a good next step?" If they tell you what they want you to do—can you get back to me with pricing, can I see some samples, do you have any catalogs—they have started to buy into you and your sales process. If they do not have a next step in mind, be ready with a suggestion of what you think the next step should be. FOLLOW UP By going through the conversation points listed above, you've posi- tioned yourself as a competent and professional partner who is ready and able to help them resolve their current need with your products. If their need or their budget is not lining up for an order at the moment, you have a better understanding of their situation to know when to come back around and check in with them. Also note, the time and the place of a meeting can greatly influ- ence the outcome of that meeting. If you are meeting at Starbucks at 7:30 a.m. on the way to work, it is not likely that they will want to discuss any budget details in such a public setting. If you are meeting with them in your business and you have employees walking past you in an open setting, that is not an ideal setting for discussing budget limits, either. If you are meeting them at their business, they may feel better about discussing the order and budget details. Ideally, in every meeting with a customer or a potential customer, you will walk in knowing what you want to accomplish. Whether you are meeting to get an understanding of their needs or getting them to place the order, how well you prepare will influence the outcome. Once you know where they are, what their needs are, what their concerns are, and what their challenges have been, you are much more likely to present solutions that will resonate with that customer. When you know their concerns and history, you are in a much better position to offer the best products at the right prices to meet their needs.

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