February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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14 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 If you've read this column in the past, you would expect the an- swer I was hoping to get to the third question would be "people buy from people who they like, trust, and with whom it is convenient to do business." I would have been happy with anything close to that from the group of people I polled. Instead, the most popular answers were customer service, name brand recognition, product quality, and price. Let's take a step back and look at the bigger picture for a moment. You could break down a business into five basic depart- mental components: management/admin, marketing, production, technology, and sales. If you ever took the time to compare your company to competitors in terms of potential attack points, you probably reach the conclu- sion that your management/admin structure, policies, and strategies are likely very similar. In this litigious world in which we operate, there is little room for creativity and differentiation here. Likewise, the way you market is not that different. Generally, the same holds true for the way products are made, pack- aged, delivered, and how technology is incorporated to make, apply, or use them. Understandably, you may argue that your business is completely different from your competitors. But why are prospective customers so willing to tell you "Look, I can have the same screen- printed T-shirt made down the block," or "I don't see the difference in your embroidery and somebody else's." If all those components are fairly equal, the only thing remaining is the strategy a business engages to win the favor of its customers—vis-à-vis the way it sells. In your company, how high do you prop up your sales people? How much do you empower them to make smart business decisions in the field, face-to-face with customers? Perhaps the first question should be, "How well have you prepared them to represent your company?" MOTIVATE WITHOUT THE HYPE One of the most basic principles of leadership and management is that an organization will repeatedly get the exact behavior that it re- inforces, recognizes, and rewards. Let this concept guide you as you pump up your sales force. Not long ago, I was fortunate to be part of a project that studied the factors that led to job satisfaction among sales people. The focus group was asked to list the most important factors that contribute to the ideal job. Here is the top 10 list in the order of most frequently given answer: YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER

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