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A Distributor Asks: If you had to give one piece of advice to a relatively new sales team about how to get away from small orders and start landing higher-volume clients, what would it be?

You chase rabbits or elephants, but you can’t do both at the same time. One wastes your time and the other pays the bills. You can make peanuts or get paychecks. Choose carefully. And I would add that you have to evaluate potential carefully. There is a difference between taking a small order for a solid account and spinning wheels on something that “could maybe turn into something.” You can’t take that “maybe” to the bank. Do your homework. Know who you are working with and for what reason. Think long term, past the order, for the relationship. If you’re not set up for ecommerce, small orders can end up costing you time in a year or five years. It’s probably not worth your time now.

Charity Gibson
National Account Coordinator
Peerless Umbrella Co.
Phoenix, Arizona
PPAI 112666, S10

Our thoughts on pursuing large-volume orders: it is a challenging task for a creative thinker to help their clients, not just sell to their clients. Finding the right client with the right budget with the right attitude with the right courage is the challenge. With those elements in place, the task is relatively easy to help your brand get their message out with items that have lasting appeal; things that are “off-the-shelf,” custom-made designs to the brand’s image, style, culture. Be different!

Judith Friedman
Sonoma Promotional Solutions
Sonoma, California
PPAI 204856, S7

Our industry has been observed as having a tiered system; smaller distributors deal with smaller clients, medium-sized distributors with more value-adds lend themselves well to a medium-sized business and full-service distributors with warehousing or multiple branch capabilities handle the big guys. Having said that, an independent distributor that focuses on solving problems for their clients asks probing questions and never takes an order without looking for the fit, is welcome at any level. When you move from selling being an order that you get, to salesmanship being an outcome you deliver on, even small-order clients can prove to be goldmines, but your big-picture skillset will land you a seat at the big table.

Jae M. Rang, MAS
JAE associates Ltd.
Oakville, Ontario
PPAI 561178, D4

Small fish lead to bigger fish.

Justin Brubaker
Account Executive
Apex Advertising Inc.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
PPAI 109458, D8

Think bigger. You’re not an order taker. You’re a problem solver. Ask bigger questions.

Sue Kinch, MAS
Pontiac, Michigan
PPAI 651709, S1

Treat everyone with respect, even with a small order. Some of my largest clients started with orders under $200. Most of these clients now order in the six figures. You never know when someone who has a small order will refer you to someone who ends up being a whale.

Richard (Rich) Cort
Senior Sales Executive
Summit Group, LLC
Silver Spring, Maryland

Think big, get the budget, find the decision-maker, get better clients, do an in-depth overall needs analysis, follow up and send handwritten notes to say thank you.

Kim Moss
Branding Consultant
MSP Design Group
Virginia Beach, Virginia

A Distributor Asks: For distributors with workers who have made the shift to working remote, what are some immediate benefits you saw from the change, and what are some challenges you’re facing? What are some of the ways you’re trying to mitigate these challenges? 

What’s Your Answer?

Email your response to the question to Question@ppai.org for the chance to be featured in a future issue of PPB.


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.