This is the first week since Jan 1 that I am not scheduled to travel anywhere either by plane or car. When you are the new guys on the block you go where ever someone will listen to you pitch your product line. We had a great first year in 2009 and are looking to build on that foundation this year with more retailers in new parts of the country.
The one thing I never did in the puzzle industry was selling. I never met a buyer face to face until I started the Lafayette Puzzle Factory. I had never sat in on a puzzle presentation or taken part in any of the direct selling until my first appointment last year. I am still not sure I am doing it right or like other people do it. So I over compensate. I bring everything I can think of to every appointment. I bring in samples, spreadsheets, bound presentations, computer powerpoint presentations, movie posters, popular best selling books, samples from other countries, and glued together puzzles. We have a line of cupcake puzzles and to a few meetings I brought cupcakes with me! I had to buy a cart to haul everything I bring with me to the meetings. I feel ridiculous sometimes walking into a building with my cart of goods. I never see anyone else with carts like me.
I bring all this stuff with me. And then when the meeting starts, I barely use any of it. Although each meeting I pull out something different. Maybe one meeting feels like a powerpoint presentation would work. The next just the excel spreadsheet tells the story. The cupcakes were a hit! It all depends on the buyer and the prop I think I need to make the case for our puzzles.
I will tell you that in every meeting I use samples of our puzzles. And ultimately, they are my best prop. They clearly show why our puzzles are superior. They show the bright, clear, colorful pictures. They show the quality of the puzzle board and the box. They show the small things we do with our packaging that makes the product that much nicer for the consumer.
My samples are my most important prop. But I still bring everything. I bring them because as we are talking I think of additional information I can share. And then I know I have that information with me. Sometimes it is information about the puzzle catagory at a macro level. Other times, it is a question specific to the types of puzzles the particular retailer is carrying. I like knowing I have that information close by.
I still am not very good at selling. I have collected a few horror stories that I will share when the wounds are not so raw. But I am really good at explaining why my puzzles are better than everyone elses. And at the end of the day, I think that is all anyone cares about.