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Relationships and Personal Connections Drive Sales

My good friend Glenda Stormes-Bice, MAS, is the editor of my rambling writings and helps keep my ADD thoughts on track. She is a great writer. I wanted to share a story she wrote because it’s so relevant to today’s marketplace. This is good stuff!

A couple weeks ago my Monday started with ink covered hands.

You guessed it, I pulled and dropped pens on the floor before I realized TWO had exploded in transit. Thus began my week burning 40 precious minutes cleaning up. The following day a $20,000 order at the proof stage, canceled. And, because bad things come in threes, I wrapped up the streak losing a nice size reorder because I just couldn’t get back to the client quick enough and they went with someone else.

One thing to be said about this business, there are sure swings of highs and lows. Everybody has the same good days and bad days. And on the upside, the same week something unexpectedly good happened.

Fifteen+ years ago I worked with a now-closed office. The secretary there, who I peripherally but never directly worked with, was now working a temp office job at the major transportation company near me. I would have never in a million years have called on them. First off, the office itself isn’t easy to get to or park at, and the building isn’t exactly navigable for visitors. Plus, there are a TON of promotional product people in this town. I mean, who ISN’T calling on this client? I had no desire to toss my hat into the fray of “another vendor”. Been there, done that.

This woman still had a promotional product I had given her way back, a unique card strip protector from American Greenwood. (Don’t look, the item is long gone, sadly). She loved it, was still using it, and it still had my contact info (yeah for quality imprinting!) She emailed me asking if I remember her and could I (you guessed it) “give her a quote” on a series of items.

I responded with a cheery email, and a suggestion to visit via phone where I planned on explaining thanks, but I don’t get into bidding situations, etc, etc. We connected and to my surprise she said she was tasked with getting some pricing. The marketing department gave her some mail order catalogs and told her to compare prices. She remembered me, how well I took care of them and realized they needed an actual person helping them instead of making blind decisions, so she reached out.

I set up an appointment with her to go over the list. It turned into an impromptu meeting with the marketing department. The deer in the headlights look told me they hadn’t ever worked with a promotional person before who provided information and help. Come to find out they are getting ready to roll out some new client-centered changes. We had a great visit and in 24 hours they had placed two small orders.

Our conversation has continued. I am cautiously optimistic. You know how these things go. This client could flourish and we could develop a great working relationship, or they could just settle for a rock bottom price of any unknown source online. It’s too early to say.

But even if it doesn’t work out it was a call I was glad to get. The woman who contacted me loves working at temp service positions so eventually, she will move on to another company and that might be another chance for a new business opportunity. Who knows. More so, in a week that was less than stellar, it was a real boost to find out that I took care of a client so well, they remembered and wanted to reach out to me years later.

No one is perfect, least of all me. I have days where I think I am nailing my job but just as many days where my efforts and results are, well, let’s just go with much less impressive. ☺

I would love to report back sometime and say this new client relationship has flourished and they do a lot of business with me. But honestly, I would be just as happy to come back and say I had another experience where someone remembered how well I took care of them. And I am good with that. Because along the way in this job being successful became less about the numbers I was posting and more about really being helpful. The nice part is, those two things go hand in hand.

Relationships are STILL relevant in today’s social media driven, e-marketplace. I was again reminded of this when attending a smaller Regional Association trade show. Trade shows seem to be challenged these days for a variety of reasons, but they still create opportunities to connect personally…and that has some charm.

Several years ago I connected with a drinkware supplier at the SAAC Show. I was in the middle of a project that had some issues. They jumped in and bailed me out. Saving my project came from a personal connection made at an industry event. We’ve done some business and it was great to see him again at the 2016 SAAC Show.

Times are changing. Suppliers and distributors need to develop marketing strategies that are effective in our evolving marketplace. Ultimately though, it seems that the power of our marketing medium, combined with professionally servicing clients…is a timeless recipe for success.

Glenda Stormes-Bice, MAS is a promotional product distributor geek and advocate of the Midwest. She’s a believing seeker & seeking believer. Beguiled by yarn & material. A lover of music & French bulldogs. Passionate about peace & understanding. Shepherd of words.


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