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Wearables Business

Getting ready for the wearables millenium

Getting ready for the wearables millenium

Nowell C. Wisch

Are you ready for the next thousand years?

As you read this, the concept of 1999 is just sinking into our gray matter, steadily ticking along, while we are still trying to remember not to write “98” in the date space on order forms. The new millenium is almost upon us. It is an exciting time to be in the expanding universe that is the promotional products business.

Creating enthusiasm

Two incidents happened recently that reminded me of the innate value our industry has. The first incident occurred yesterday (as I write this two months before deadline). My wife’s cousin, a very successful lawyer from Chicago and a managing partner of a firm with more than 500 attorneys, was in town for a convention. The organization, a group of finance bankers and lawyers, is very high-powered and moneyed.

Our cousin was so excited by the things he collected at the trade show portion of the convention that he could hardly wait to show us his “loot.” Remember that this man could buy a controlling interest in any of the supplier factories that provided these items that he so treasured. Here he was, proudly showing me a pocket first aid kit, mini Swiss Army-type knives (from one of my suppliers!), a portfolio, a briefcase and a polo shirt — all souvenirs from a trade show that he wasn’t even that excited to attend. He couldn’t wait to get home and give things to his three sons. He even packed the knives in his suitcase so they wouldn’t be taken at the security checkpoint.

He thought that my business must be really fun, and, while I do too, his enthusiasm for the business was contagious. While I didn’t think that I could be more enthusiastic, he helped me rise another level.

Are you ready?

The second event was a conversation I had with Campbell “Cam” Brown, MAS, senior vice president of the Walter W. Cribbins Co. in San Francisco. He spent 20 of his very valuable minutes reminding me of our need for basic salesmanship. Brown teaches his staff the concept of “Opportunity Time,” his term for the only commodity we have as salespeople.

One of his concerns is that many salespeople set lofty goals each year without a plan for achieving them. If we do not have a plan to get the maximum benefit from our “Opportunity Time,” how much will lost opportunity cost us?

Why, he wonders, do we seem to spend so much time chasing orders without thinking about what those orders cost us to get? We should weigh decisions about our activity against our desired income.

Know your worth

How much are you worth to yourself? The analysis of value will determine your actions in the coming year. Cam Brown analyzes every selling moment, asking if it contributes to a goal. If you expect to make “X” dollars a year by selling, then your hourly rate must be “Y” dollars an hour. All selling activity must be measured on the “rate-of-return” scale. Your question must be: “Will I receive value from this activity commensurate with my needs and expectations?”

If you need to get a sample across town to a client, does the 90-minute round trip cost less than the $25 messenger? If you expect to make $50,000 this year, you must make about $24 per hour on a 235-day work year. The drive across town will cost you $36 in time. You should determine if the $12 spread makes sense before you hop into the car.

How do you measure a decision to play golf during the selling week? In a business sense, is the afternoon worth the true cost? The real total of the golf game is not just the greens fee, cart, beer, cigars and food, it is also the cost of the time that it takes to play, at $24 per hour. Add it up and the round of golf may cost more than $200.

You’re not insane, are you?

Insanity, as defined by Wisch is: “Doing what you have always done yet expecting a different result this time.” Cam Brown doesn’t use the term “insane,” but he could. He just wonders about salespeople who have lofty expectations without having a plan to achieve them.

The goals we set for 1999 will be the last goals we set for the old millennium. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? In a historical perspective, 1999 is just another year. But, rollovers are very significant.

I remember when my trusty old Toyota van went over 100,000 miles. I watched with apprehension and excitement, the steady march from 97,090 (when I first noticed the impending event) towards the big rollover. There was something about the six-digit number that seemed at once terrifying and magical. “1999” to “2000” is similar in that it sure feels momentous.

Wearables in the bank

Wearables represent one of our best opportunities for growth this year. The prescription for success may be, “Take two polo shirts, and call me in the morning.” As much as is happening in other areas of the business, the movement in the wearables market is faster and more exciting.

Companies like Alpha Shirt are introducing new and exciting lines for 1999. Dallas this year will be as vibrant as any apparel show. Every major garment wholesaler and manufacturer will be out in force, showing new styles and colors. With suppliers offering more variety and prices dropping, ah, what a great time to be alive!

Personal inventory

If you want to create real change in your selling life this year, it is time to perform an assessment of your attitude and motivation. It is time to examine your goals and what you are willing to do to achieve them. So, grab a cup of your favorite brew, pick up your favorite pen, and, asking yourself the questions in the accompanying chart, write an action plan for 1999. Want to achieve the greatest results? Then be brutally honest with the answers.

Most salespeople are dreamers… it is what fuels our activities and makes us great. My goals for 1999 are to dream bigger dreams, work smarter to achieve them, be more creative and make the most of my “Opportunity Time.” After all, I don’t want Cam Brown to think I’m insane!

Happy Selling!

Nowell C. Wisch, CAS, is Editor-at-Large for Wearables Business. A 20-year veteran of the promotional advertising business, he now heads Nowell C. Wisch Associates, a San Diego-based sales representation and consulting firm for the industry.

Action Plan For a Successful 1999

1: What are my goals for 1999?

2: What must I do differently to achieve them?

3: Why can I expect to do more business this year than last?

4: Where will my new business come from?

5: Am I one of the 90 percent who never change?

6: Will I make the most of the “Opportunity Time” that I have with clients?

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