March '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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22 || P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 1 7 Jennifer Cox is the president and co-founder of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), a professional organization for apparel decoration busi- ness owners. NNEP supports the success of NNEP mem- bers with best practices, ideas, sources, solutions, vol- ume-buying benefits, and services. Cox was recognized as a Top 50 Small Business Influencer and Community Choice STITCH SOLUTIONS B Y J E N N I F E R C O X Leader by Small Biz Trends in 2013, is recognized as one of the industry's "Most Creative Thinkers," and repeatedly ranks in the top 40 on the industry's "Power List." Reach her at or go to I t seems like there are two kinds of business owners in the em- broidery industry: producers and sellers. Producers get into this business because they enjoy making embroidered things and the people around them said, "You could sell this. You should start a business!" Sellers have a natural aptitude for helping people by pro- viding products that meet their needs. They fulfill their customers' needs with embroidered apparel, which they may make themselves or work with someone that makes it. The truth of the matter is sales are what drives business, so sellers have an advantage over producers. They are not intimidated by the prospect of finding customers or sitting down with clients for a sales conversation. Producers, on the other hand, have been known to get into this business only to then realize, "Yipes, I have to interact with people and convince them to buy my stuff for this business to work!?!" The idea of selling their products is uncomfortable, or even completely overwhelming to them. Fortunately for the producers, mastering the sales process can be learned. In fact, producers are often surprised to discover not only can they learn it, but they also find it enjoyable. Here are some strat- egies that you can apply to help you become comfortable with the sales process. STRATEGY 1: UNDERSTANDING THE SALES PROCESS MEANS UNDERSTANDING THE CUSTOMER'S BUYING PROCESS When you change your perspective, you can approach the sales conversation with the mindset of, "Buy my stuff, " or you can ap- proach the conversation thinking, "What is your need or problem, and which of my gazillion products will best solve it for you?" In the "buy my stuff " conversation, you tend to do a lot of talking and not much listening. In the "what is your need" conversation, the customer does most of the talking at first. Once you know what they are trying to ac- complish, then you recommend products that would make it happen. You and your customer work together to solve their challenge. You be- come partners in developing a solution, instead of a pushy salesperson trying to seal the deal. When you become partners in a solution, you are much more likely to hear from them again and again over the years. STRATEGY 2: AFFIRM THEIR DECISION TO TALK WITH YOU As humans, we want to know that we have se- lected the best product, bought it from the best place, and paid the best price. Let your custom- ers know and see that you make the best prod- ucts with the samples that you present and what you are wearing when you meet with them. Have a few testimonials in your materials that they can read. Showcase the logos of other recog- nized businesses for whom you have done work. Assure them that you make your deadlines and that you stand by the quality of your work. How to Succeed in Sales Even if you're not a natural salesperson

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