I’ve heard the same mantra for years. Distributors walk by our tradeshow booth and say, “WOW, your awards are so beautiful. I wish my customers wanted this stuff!” Well, the truth is they do want this “stuff.” However, they’re getting it from someone other than you!
Don’t believe me?
I’ve been in this game for 25 years and I know from experience that the game is changing. The demand for recognition awards outside the promotional products industry is growing. However, within the promotional products industry, the demand for awards is shrinking.
This becomes painfully obvious when you look at the PPAI and the ASI State of the Industry product category percentages over the past 9-10 years. The “awards” category has dropped from 3.77% of the entire industry in 2006 to 2.8% in 2016.
The potential for new business has not disappeared – it has simply been reallocated. So, if the recognition industry at large is growing, but the recognition niche within the promotional products industry is shrinking, who is getting the business?
Corporate buyers generally don’t think of distributors as a viable source for awards. They view most distributors as a source for promotional products, not for employee recognition awards. Instead, end users are going straight to a local or online provider.
Non-promotional products companies are getting the business.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When you walk away from a client meeting without discussing awards, you are leaving untapped sales on the table. It’s comparable to taking one bite of your prime rib and calling the rest of it “scraps.”
Listen up distributors – this is big! Your clients DO want awards; in fact, they usually need awards every single year. Recognition awards are an essential tool that managers use every day to motivate employees. This happens every day in organizations everywhere.
It’s time to change the conversation. Don’t walk away from a client meeting without asking about awards. Take the initiative. Ask who your customers get awards from and then ask to be their awards provider.
Corporate clients gain trust and confidence with a distributor who is involved in planning their recognition program. And these programs take place year after year, giving you repeat business. This same trust transposes itself onto all other product categories, such as writing instruments, wearables, bags, gifts, and business accessories.
You can have it all! Create a comprehensive program with each client. Start with awards then add other promotional products to the mix. Or start with promotional products and add awards to the deal.
Be proactive and have a plan so that you can make more money. There is no reason to leave sales on the table.