Business 101: Party IVa - Outside Gal - Meetings with Professional Clients

Hi All,

The Outside Gal has a lot to offer. This position is responsible for a number of different things, such as procuring new jobs, making sales, schmoozing with customers or future customers, and being creative. Usually this person will be the creative driving force behind the company.

Outside Gal

Keep a binder or a sketch journal of ideas. Take it with you wherever you go - you never know when inspiration is going to hit. I also like to keep a point and shoot camera on me as well, if I can manage it.

1.  Make some mock ups of your product and have a protective but nice presentation for it. Figure your total cost and profit on these items. Would you be willing and able to produce tripples or sets of these, if asked to?

2.  Decide on the types of established businesses and locations you think you'd like to do business with. Do some research on these companies. Who is the owner? What is the background information for this company? Get a telephone number and address.

3.  Give 'em a call. Ask for the owner - explain who you are and what you do and that you'd like to set an appointment to drop by and show some samples. Often times if you say that you're a local artist looking to gain support in your community, business owners will respond positively and be more likely to support you and your work.  Be pleasant, but firm. It is easy for people to just say no and hang up on the phone, so do not try to sell over the phone. Set a date and time.

4.  Be prepared. Bring business cards, a pad of paper and pens. Know your product, it's cost, profit, and the type of sales you would be interested in. Usually established companies prefer to purchase your product outright, paying you by check. Are you willing to accept a business check? BEWARE of consignment offers! Consignment means that you leave your product at the location, and if it sells you get the profit and the business gets a cut. This is dangerous because you risk damage to your product, among other things. You have to go in and check up on it every couple of days, which can be a hassle if you are not in the area or can't make it in every couple of days.

5.  Ask questions - what are the business' needs? What sells best at the location currently? Can you provide a better product at a better value to the business owner? Make your products fit the needs of the business. How much traffic does the business run? Listen to the business owner's needs and concerns and address them appropriately.

6.  Demonstrate your product! This is the deal breaker! Really wow them! Your product should have variety and a wide range, but still have a consistant style that is all your own.

7. Take notes if you can.

8. What if they can't/don't/are hesitant to purchase currently? Being flexible with price can go a long way. One technique is to jack up the price of your goods before you go into the meeting. Then, when price is being negotiated, or price is a make-it-or-break-it issue, offer a discount. It makes you look good AND still pays your cost and profit.  This technique is particularly useful when you're dealing with asians or middle eastern shop owners, who culturally, will haggle and barter and EXPECT to be given a deal. (No offense to anyone intended!)

9. Get contact information - phone number, e-mail, mailing address.  Give them your card. A few times I've had business owners decline to purchase simply because of funding issues. This doesn't mean that they are not interested! One of my best customers contacted me after she said she couldn't afford to purchase and wanted me to come in and do a monthly table show! WHAT A DEAL! It worked out better than if I had placed items in her shop!

10. Set another meeting - if they don't buy, set another meeting for a few weeks down the road.

11. After the meeting write down everything you can remember about the meeting - likes, dislikes, needs, desires, wants, preferances and traffic. Notice decor or feel of the location.

12. Send a Thank You note. People don't have to take time out of their day to meet with you. This is the polite, professional and proper thing to do. Add a personal touch, but keep it business-oriented and professional. Include a business card and maybe a coupon.

13. Follow up and stay in contact - contact is key. Shoot them an e-mail after a few days to keep your items in their mind. Be persistant, but do not stalk or be pushy. A pushy sales person is a sales person without a technique. (For more info on sales techniques, see the FABG entry.)


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