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biz ladies 09: make time for face-time

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we live and work in a digital world, so sometimes it’s easy to forget the importance of meeting face-to-face for a business. so today jamie kalvestran of scrap-bags is sharing her advice and tips for giving clients and customers face-time. it’s such an important part of running any company so i hope you’ll enjoy jamie’s advice as much i as did. i know it was a welcome reminder for me to get out there a bit more so i hope you’ll all take away some advice from jamie’s piece. (ps: stay tuned for 2 more biz ladies posts today)


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for Jamie’s post after the jump!

Hello my name is Jamie Kalvestran. I have been a longtime follower of Design Sponge. I have written a short article, Make Time For Face Time, about selling wholesale.

I am a product and surface designer. My company is Kalvestran Inc. dba Scrap-bags™. In addition to surface design and licensing, I design handbags and purses as well as quilts, writing the sewing patterns, then publishing and selling wholesale all over the world. I have been a designer for over 23 years and in the sewing pattern business for 6 years. I currently have eleven distributors worldwide. I normally market via vending at trade shows, advertising in trade publications, mailings, e-newsletters and blogging. But this year I added a new element to my marketing plan, instead of waiting for my customers to come to me, I went to them.

Visiting my customers in their environment in a more relaxed atmosphere was both inspiring and helpful. (compared to the harried schedules kept at a trade shows) The time spent together was very enjoyable and the orders written were larger than usual! By seeing my customers in the environments they created I gained knowledge about who they are, who their customers are and hopefully what they might be looking for. So far it’s served me very well, my sales are up considerably compared to last year!

On Weds Feb. 25, 2009 I returned from visiting customers in five states. I also published a blog about my travel and the shops I visited, (I believe it’s 59 shops to date).

I hope you will find this article helpful, work hard, be happy and prosper!

Make Time For Face Time

Selling to your customer face to face may seem old school, time consuming and expensive, especially if you need to travel. Technology offers us things like faxes, e-news letters, video demos, tele-conferences, mobile phone contact etc. and this should be enough, right? Wrong!

I have used most of what technology has to offer in addition to trade shows and old fashioned mailings. As the economy plummeted and sales declined I decided to go on the road and meet my customers face to face! Here’s what I learned.

Face to face gives you:

TIME:

• Time to LISTEN. You can easily learn about the areas in which your business is not meeting your client’s expectations by asking for feedback.

• Time to look them in the eye, because eye contact builds trust.

• Time to show unique features of your products that might go unnoticed in a photo either in print or online.

• Time to communicate and develop a respect for each other.

• Time to let them know you care about them, their business and their satisfaction with your product. Create real bonds with real humans in real TIME.

Where to start?

#1 Make An Appointment: Call ahead to see if they have time for you to stop and see them. Tell them who you are, where you are from and what you want to show them. Be happy, flexible, caring, understanding. If they are too busy at the time, leave an opening for the next time you are in their area.

#2 Think about your personal appearance. Don’t over dress or under dress. Try and match the look and feel of your customer and their environment.

#3 Be prompt or slightly early for your appointment. Be patient if you have to wait for them. Schedule plenty of time for yourself so you can be patient and not have to rush when it’s show time!

#4 Shake hands – Practice a GOOD handshake. Be yourself – talk to your customer like you are talking to a friend. SMILE.

#6 Know your product. Be polite and positive. Treat them like a boss – with respect, courtesy, tact and diplomacy.

#7 Engage your customer by asking questions. Look them in the eye.

#8 IMPORTANT! Ask for the order.

#9 Say THANK-YOU!

Thank you for the sale. If you don’t make a sale say, Thank you for your time, or Thank you for letting me visit your shop, I really enjoyed meeting you! Let them know you’d like to see them again, regardless if you made the sale.

#10 Leave something behind. When they want to find you later to place an order a brochure or catalog is easier to find than an old email.

Sell not for immediate profits but sell for your future! Show the person that their business matters so much to you that you are willing to go to them and that you appreciate them.

When it comes to building and cementing relationships, nothing beats the personal touch of a face-to-face meeting, try working it into your marketing plan. Once you begin to make time for face time, you’re bound to see results.

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8 Comments

Judy Carpenter

So many things to learn at my early stage. This is wonderful info. Thanks

Kelli Taylor

I’m loving these “Biz ladies 09″ posts! I’m a small business and it’s always good to learn from others!!!

Treehouse Collective

I’ve always been pretty good about working face to face with my customers. In fact, in starting to work with reps I’ve had to let go of the fact that I’m not going to personally know every store that buys my product! However, one of my business goals this year is to meet more people from the online design community face to face, especially since I live in a small town where many people don’t know what a blog is. It has been energizing and interesting to make these connections, like meeting Grace and Julia Rothman at Rare Device last year!

EB Finds

I have been a territory sales rep for the last 15 years, so all of this comes naturally to me. People really appreciate professionalism, product knowledge, and a spirit of partnership. It is all about relationship building. Don’t just just go there to sell, but go with marketing and merchandising ideas and other helpful tips. I am always amazed at the reaction that a simple “thank you for the order” or “thank you for your business” gets. It is so simple, but if genuine, has a great impact.

Sam

Although it doesn’t apply to my current line of business (I’m not selling retail items… yet!), I love these posts. Well done.

Phoebe

Sometimes I have a hard time when I’m going face-to-face with someone because it can be a little intimidating, but I’ve also found it to be absolutely true that being there in person is the best way to show that you care and are approachable! Thanks for the tips!

mackenzi

I think this particular article is sooooo important. I know when reps come to see me I cherish the ability to feel and see the items I want, and I feel I get a better mix for my store that way.

Lucy

Jamie,
Well done! There is nothing like face to face communication as we see less and less of it these days.

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