Salesmanship - Striving For Excellence Before Affluence
Each godly businesswoman has in the front of her mind the thought that she works for the Lord. Through all the ups and downs, complaints and praise, you strive for excellence in your work because of who you represent. What are some practical ways you can accomplish this? How can you show your customers, retailers and the crafting community that you choose to live your entire life committed to excellence?
It starts with your products. You spend hours perfecting each design and choosing the highest quality supplies. This is your passion. You spend hours with your craft, often late at night after telling your family goodnight. You do this because you love it; you have the urging to create. After perfecting your products you begin looking for a way to introduce them to the public. Whether you sell at craft fairs, to catalogs, retail shops or online; there are a few steps that will show others your commitment to quality and service.
Start with how you package and label your product. Everyone who picks up your items to give them that ‘closer look’ will be searching for the tag. Not only to see the price but also to find out what kind of businessperson you are. Hand written price tags are easily replaced with ones designed on your own PC. Take a trip to your favorite gift store and look at the labels on their products. Note the graphics, colors and types of paper they use. When you lay out your own labels, make sure you include your contact information. If you have a web page, be sure the address is on every label, every flyer and every sales letter you compose.
Your sales literature shows the professionalism of your business. It is a gauge of your ability as a salesperson, stating that you understand the business. Simple tri-fold brochures can be used to show off your products and give a bit of information about who you are and the purpose of your business. Be sure to keep your writing concise and to the point. If you do your own literature, do several drafts and ask friends for their opinion. Use clear, closely cropped pictures of your products for your flyers and catalogs. Great products and a professional appearance fade quickly if your sales literature is riddled with spelling errors or the pictures are fuzzy.
A good picture will say more than you can. Set up your photos carefully, keeping the background clean and clutter free. Your shots should be bright and clear, with your product front and center. Use props as highlights; a bit of ivy and a few bath accessories will make soaps and body lotions stand out. Take several shots of each product and make certain to have plenty of light. Take a few group shots of products for the front of sales postcards.
Plan sales ventures carefully. If your first project is the local holiday bazaar, you will want to work on designing an inviting booth that will draw people from the isles into your store. Dress appropriately for your locale, always keeping in mind that you are representing your business and should look like a professional. That is often going to mean a skirt and sweater or blouse; be comfortable but look your best.
Demeanor is important no matter what venue you use to market your products. Greeting people warmly, looking them in the eye and smiling warmly is just the beginning. You need to sell your products, mentioning their benefits, varied uses and high quality. Be specific, but don‘t bog customer down with production details. Listing to your customers needs is key in this type of conversation. This takes practice, as it is often uncomfortable to talk in depth with strangers. Try it a few times; by the end of the first day, you’ll be doing it like a pro.
When doing shows be sure to follow the organizer’s guidelines. This may sound commonplace but it is worth mentioning. Arrive on time, preferably early, having your booth ready when customers begin to arrive. Follow regulations as to fire code and booth construction. These are not put in your contract to annoy you but to protect you and your customers. If you have any questions about the pages of guidelines you are presented with, be sure to call or email the organizer.
Once you have tested your products at local shows, you might want to try wholesaling. This is a big step, requiring more of your time and energy. To start you will need to go over your sales materials, gather samples and establish a few new policies regarding sales and production. Take a deep breath and follow the rules you already know. Be courteous at all times. There are going to be shops, reps and catalogs that do not want your work. Thank them kindly, ask if there is any way that you could improve your presentation or product, and then move on. At this stage in growth, it is very easy to become discouraged, generally things like this don’t fall in your lap. It is going to take work, and plenty of revision. You may even find yourself revamping products when you want to move into a larger market.
Take it a step at a time and do each step well. You will soon establish a name for your self in the craft community if you handle yourself in a poised and thoughtful manner. This means setting standards for yourself and your business, then keeping to them. Honor your contracts, pay on time and deliver on time. It is easier to keep established customers happy than it is to always be cultivating new sales.
Reminds me of the old addage...if you don't have the time to do it right, how are you going to have the time to do it over!
Hope you have opportunities to present your wisdom to those in cottage industries.