Awards & Engraving

April '18

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Page 19 of 100

A&E APRIL 2018 • 17 their success. Take the time to ask ques- tions of those who sell others every day — they often want to let you know just how much they know. At the same time, these salespeople can be your connection to industry trends. Know the suppliers you can depend on for raw materials or finished goods. This point and the one we just covered go hand in hand and can make or break many small businesses. The great suppliers in any industry contribute to your success, and you should work hard to satisfy your obligations to these folks. It is difficult to accomplish true success unless you line up suppliers who are dependable with on-time delivery. These suppliers should be consid- ered as being on your team just as if they were employees. Good suppliers are a real part of your business just as if they worked in your building from 9 to 5. How do we locate the right suppliers who can lead us to products that will sell and bring us success? One of the best ways I have found is to ask questions of those you come in contact with at trade shows. If you see a booth at a trade show with a lot of people, it can fool us into thinking they are the best at the trade show. But if they are really busy, that means your com- petition might be looking at their goods. This can be good, but you need products that others don't have in order to attract the clients who might not come to you otherwise. Think of where you shop and what appeals to you. Why do you keep going back to the same stores or websites? What makes the difference for you? When you think of what works to sell you then that same tone is what can change your business and put it on a positive course. Venture out and search for new products for your clients. Look for products with good profit margins. And whatever you do, don't imitate your competition—develop your own creativity and new products. It is important to use your own creativity. Know your limitations and don't over- extend you or your firm. When you first start your business, you will have so much energy that excites you into believing you can do almost anything. That's good, and often it's good that we don't know that we have certain limitations. When I first started, I knew that I needed someone with a big order to give me a chance. After I told them the story of starting a business at 12 years old, they would smile and look at me and say come back and see us in a few years. I knew they thought this young guy can't show us he is capable — he has no track record. And they were right: I didn't have the experience for a big order, just the desire to prove I could do it. That is why I started selling on the phone — no one knew how old I was. I studied my product line and knew it better than the prospect and most of the competition. But if I had received a large order in those early days, I might have made such a big mistake and never recovered. It is important to know your limitations, but also important to strive for just a little more; don't be satisfied with the status quo. When the time came and I was presented with a large order, I had to be ready and know I could and would perform for my client. I didn't know my limitations but believed that was good and bad — good because it kept me driving forward with a hope of success. Sales & Marketing

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