Hybrid Selling is Here to Stay

Hybrid Selling is Here to Stay | Jim Franklyn, InkHead Promos

For the past 7+ years our company has passionately shared information within the industry regarding the seismic sales shift that is underway. My background includes 25+ years in sales, management, and ownership in traditional sales models.

In Q4 2008, I made a decision that would forever change my life and perspective on professional selling, I went all in - as in the internet. As we motor onward in 2016 and beyond, the landscape of what a being a promotional product distributor entails is forever changing. The days of “trunk slammer” selling are quickly fading into the sunset. The debate rages on as to whether or not catalogs are even necessary.  Gemline became the first Top 40 Supplier to discontinue the use of catalogs in 2016. Is this forward thinking? Or, is it a way to save what is arguably one of the larger expenses our suppliers incur?

We have all heard the stories on the thousands upon thousands of catalogs that are thrown out at the end of each year. Anyone care to estimate how much that costs annually (GULP), and what about the environmental impact? How about the evolution of supplier websites? Are they more retail looking, or is it just our imagination? More importantly, what are you doing as a promotional product distributor to prepare for the seismic shift that is under way in our industry?

Get used to the term Hybrid Selling, Hybrid Distributor, and - don’t shoot the messenger - the Hybrid Supplier.  In this new model, how can you protect your market share? How do you remain relevant in an industry that is transforming right before your eyes?

There are three absolutes we believe must be on your “to do” list. 

1) Promotional Product Website – five years ago the industry was telling you to make sure you had a “webpage.” We believe the industry, and equally important, the decision makers who are emerging into buyers for the products we provide, will want much more. Consider this one small tidbit of information: The #1 online promotional product distributor, and now the #1 distributor in the world, executed over 1,000,000 transactions in 2015. For those who play the numbers game, that is over 3,200 orders per day and over 83,300 orders per month. Holy calculator calamity!!

2) eCommerce Marketing Strategy – Is this on your radar yet? If it's not, it better be soon! Without this key component you will find yourself working harder, not smarter, in the years to come. It took the #1 distributor in our industry 15+ years to reach 1,000,000+ annual online transactions.

3) Consultative Selling - This will always be an integral part of what we do in the promotional product industry. What will change in the years to come? Many of the leads consultants will be following up on will be from the Hybrid Model you have created. At several of the leadership functions I have attended over the past five years a huge question looms: Who will be replacing the Baby Boomers on the front lines? Who will be selling promotional products and programs in the years to come? There is absolutely a need for consultative selling! It will be fascinating to see what is in the toolbox of the “Hybrid Seller” as over 60% of our sales force changes hands to this new generation by the year 2026.

The biggest difference between 2016 vs. 2006 is that simply having a website is not enough. You will need to do more. This means having a comprehensive Marketing Strateg that includes a very strong eCommerce component.

Do you want to remain relevant?  What do you think will be needed to do that in the next two to five years?