Shop Improvement Series: Sales is the Lifeblood of Your Business

Sales is the Lifeblood of Your Business

Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid Facebook as much as I can. I’m not sure if you have noticed or not, but I don’t comment or post as frequently in the groups as I used to. Not that I don’t value the “fun” that Facebook brings, but frankly I just don’t want to view the constant barrage of political hyperbole (from every side) and the steady stream of negativity.

However, sometimes it’s like a bad car accident that you observe as you drive past on the freeway.

You can’t help but look.

With that same unnatural compelling focus, I occasionally peek into the groups to see what’s lurking. The other day, someone posted about starting a screenprinting business and wanted to know the basic tips on how to get started. My advice is the same as it usually is for questions like this:

Start with a business plan.

I know. Geez. That again.

Will I ever shut up about a business plan? Probably not.

Because I know that the one thing that separates a successful business (in any industry) from a pretender is absolute alignment with the perfect customer.

I also know that only about 25%-30% of the businesses in the decorated apparel industry have an active business plan.

Use a Different Label

Here is a mindset shift for you. For many in the industry, they regard themselves as a “screenprinter” or an “embroiderer” or a “digital printer”.

News flash…that’s not who you are.

That’s a label you give yourself. It’s the activity that you do that makes you money. At the end of the day, you are an entrepreneur. A businessman or businesswoman.

For the most part, your customer could care less regarding who actually decorates their shirt. You? Billy on your staff? Another company that you outsource to?

They. Don’t. Care.

What they do care about is you solving their problem for them. They need shirts by next Friday. The shirts have to look great.

That’s it.

They are coming to you as you have authority in this area and they don’t. You are the expert. That means that you don’t have to even touch the production part of this process.

Don’t believe me?

The promotional products industry in 2018 had a total sales of $23.3 billion. Apparel sales were their largest category for that and made up 28.8% or $6,710,040,000. This industry sold decorated apparel and didn’t actually handle any of the production themselves.

They focused on the sales end of the stick.

Sales are the Lifeblood of Your Business

While I’m not advocating that you stop the production part of the process, what I am suggesting is that sales play a bigger role in your success than anything else you can do.

Without sales, your company will wither and die.

More importantly, without profitable sales, your company will never grow. Profitable sales are the lifeblood of your business.

Let’s revisit that business plan idea again.

For newbie folks starting off, pricing is always the most difficult. They lack confidence and skill. They don’t have experience in the industry yet. And worst of all, they are willing to do anything. Which includes dropping their pants when it comes to pricing to get an order.

This is mostly because they don’t understand or comprehend a critical component for this industry.

There is more value in being a problem solver than being a commodity.

Marketing guru Seth Godin has a great quote that applies here, “Companies that market on the lowest price usually have nothing interesting to say.”

Meaning there is no meat on that bone.

The reason I keep mentioning a business plan, as this is the one tool that you can use to drill down and discover the key alignment between your skill set (what you do best) with the customers that will pay you the most because they value your ability to solve their problems.

When built properly, this tool becomes a roadmap to victory.

For those people that say, “It’s too competitive in my area…I can’t raise my prices.” I say that maybe you need better customers. You know you don’t have to go after those cheapo folks, right?

There are customers for every market. Including ones that will help you make more profit. That’s the beauty of a business plan.


Let’s Use An Example

There are other industries that we can point to and learn from. Cell phones, automobiles, restaurants, airlines, furniture, grocery stores, computers…name anything around you in your area.

There are the lowest price, commodity level businesses in those. I’m sure you can think of a few.

From a mid-level perspective, there are businesses that are built that target customers not on the cheapest, commodity level; but not on the top of the economic scale either. If this was the children’s story Goldilocks, they would be “just right.”

And, of course, there are businesses that cater to the high rollers and the upper echelon of any group.

Now think of your business. Where do you fit in with those three types?

If you are complaining about not making the profit that you want to realize, are you sure you are focused on the right customers for your business? Are you targeted to help them solve their problems and not just sell them stuff?

Want more sales? Look for alignment and fit.

The value you bring isn’t that you can decorate a shirt. Any buffoon can do that. Plenty do. Learn to articulate what you bring to the table that makes your customer a hero.

Get rid of the tire kickers and the “I can get it cheaper somewhere else” customers. Learn to attract and keep better customers. Focus 100% on solving your customer’s pain points and problems. Quit selling ink on cotton.

You can do this if you put some energy and thought behind it.

“If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all of your items, just carry those twenty percent.” – Henry Kissinger

“In sales, a referral is the key to the door in resistance.” – Bo Bennett

“A good ad which is not run never produces sales.” – Leo Burnett

I need a favor

Thank for reading my blog. I really appreciate it!

If you have two seconds, I would love for you to click this button below and jump over to my YouTube page and subscribe.

I’m pushing more content there, and I think you will find a lot of the videos that I’m building to be valuable resources for you and your decorated apparel business.


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