So, I saw something crazy
“Look!” I whispered to my husband.
“Omg… they are gorgeous!” He whispered back smiling in the direction of the two dogs.
“But they are suffering,” I said, still watching.
What a heat. My armpits were wet. 30-something degrees. My tongue felt rough and dry.
But I kept my eyes on these dogs.
It was a pair of Newfoundlanders. (You know, the huge bread, black with a massive thick double coat.)
The line started to move in slow-motion. One step. One step. Full-stop.
I felt something sweaty slipping at my upper arm and moved closer to my husband. A bearded man behind me in the queue.
I could not understand him because he was muttering. Something like: "?, disorganized mess!"
“At least 25 minutes,” Jürgen said, estimating the time we would need to get to the drinks bar.
The band already started to play their first song "Come all without, come all within - You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn".
Not my music anyway.
Puh, still long to go until we could grab a Pinot Grigio. Let alone a sausage with fries.
Hot Saturday night. The marketplace in our town Norderstedt (Hamburg, Germany)- stuffed with people. No wonder, the event was free. People who dressed up, some homeless people, best agers, teenies... Just a bunch of regular townspeople.
The beard-man kept pushing from behind, saying stupid things in a loud, stupid voice. “WOAH, THIS ISN’T MOVING HERE!” “HELL, HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE!”
The end of the leashes of the two massive Newfoundlanders was twisted around an ankle of a woman. She held one beer in her hand, in the other hand, another beer. I saw her back.
If you know one thing or two about me then you know I love dogs. Truth be told I'm a bit over the moon crazy even. (That’s what my friends say.) Any dog, the old, the ugly - ALL of them.
The animals laid down flat. Their heavy thick coat touched the ground like a carpet. Their pink tongs were hanging out of their jaws. They breathed heavily.
My eyes were glued to them.
“Isn’t she seeing that her dogs are thirsty?” More to myself than to Jürgen next to me who was all ears to "Blinded by the Lights".
What a dog owner, I couldn’t believe it.
The leash-woman kept chatting, finishing her second beer. It was so obvious that her dogs were suffering lacking water, why was she not noticing?
I pictured the Newfoundlanders getting dehydrated so much that they can’t get up. They were closed to getting unconscious.
I imagined an emergency car drowning with its siren. "Davy's on the Road Again", bursting through the crowd to rescue these poor creatures. In my mind, I started to see the cowed building an emergency lane. The ambulance staff had trouble lifting the heavy dogs onto their rescue stretcher.
Now, this homeless guy turned up.
Carefully balancing an empty mayonnaise plastic bucket filled with water.
He put it on the ground in front of the Newfoundlanders. Not wasting any second, they started to drink greedily.
With that, the guy turned around and vanished into the crowd with the first beats of "For You".
Ms. Chatty with the leashes around her ankle didn’t seem to notice a thing.
Jürgen yelled: “Let’s get a bit closer to the stage”.
We did. I lost sight of the dogs.
Well, we made it home finally on our bikes.
The evening was funny and entertaining, despite the music.
Thanks, homeless guy, I will never forget.
If this is a good transition from my story to the thing I want to talk about today – I really don’t know. You decide.
It’s about the fear of taking control of the selling process. Okay, let's do this...
We have been programmed since childhood to play nice with people.
You intuitively know that this goes especially with our customers.
And we think that any sort of confrontation or any sort of disagreement in a selling process feels angsty.
Like I’m pushing someone.
Or I’m going to alienate certain buyers who disagree with me. Another example would be that they feel offended by my advice.
I don’t want to alienate the ones who buy from me.
We think that being too assertive or being too certain is a terrible thing.
Above all, salespeople are afraid to do this because they fear they will scare the buyer away.
Muhammad said: “You should not disagree with your buyer. Because this will turn them off. The buyer will not like me anymore and I’d lose the order or even the business… and finally I am a loser.”
Garment exporters and salespeople in our industry feel that way. Behind all that playing-nice game.
Why you have to give that up
I would challenge everyone who is disagreeing in their mind…
The thing is:
"When was the last time you wanted to hire or buy from anyone because they were always yes-yes-yes with you?"
If you now think of other professions… like doctors or lawyers.
We expect them to have done a diagnosis, to have a plan, a structure, an opinion.
And to guide us.
Your doctor says: ”You can go for emergency surgery for your broken knee. Or I sing a little soothing song for you. It’s up to you.”
Would you go to this doc a second time?
No, you wouldn’t.
The KEY question
Is your intention to help your buyers with something that is in THEIR best interest?
If your answer is “YES” then don’t hold back.
- know what you know
- have the insights that you have
- have the background that you have
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Sometimes that means breaking “Playing-Nice-Rules”
(Coming from a typical people-pleaser like me)
YOU KNOW when a buyer is insisting on a print technique that is creating nothing but trouble in the sewing process.
She doesn’t know unless you tell her.
And it’s so much more compelling when you do.
It saves you both so much headache.
Yet, YOU KNOW when a buyer is shaking her head in reluctance for a fabric that you know will sell like hotcakes.
Eh! You can’t let that pass…
“At least please consider it - C&A ran a TV ad campaign 3 weeks ago with a sell-through rate of 87% with this fabric.”
The magic is right there.
Even so, YOU KNOW the exact date when he must have placed his order for the sake that everything runs smoothly.
Take a stand
I love the idea of taking a position.
You want to relax.
Plain spoken works well.
In fact, that's where buyers engage with you: That's what they remember.
But once you've put a stake in the ground, you've got to get ready to defend it.
To clarify, have good arguments, they are going to come to listen, they get on your side.
Forget the fear of turning buyers off
This is a big one.
“Yes, we can do this type of washing”
is a lot easier than
“No. We don’t produce it because there’s too much variation from piece to piece. You are going to find that difficult once the goods are in your store.”
The second way feels too direct and bold?
But direct and bold is good.
It’s what relationships should be.
The “tell-it-like-it-is” Style
The "Yes-style" used to be what was considered in our industry as professional. But now any person that buyers love to work with speaks in a clear “tell-it-like-it-is way”.
So, I say:
Clear is the new professional.
Not a boss? Not a problem.
Involving, advising, disagreeing
There’s anxiety coming with it.
In my early days, I thought:
“Who am I to tell this buyer what is good or not? How can I be so sure? It’s her brand, she should know.”
Yes, I had an opinion but the nasty bird in my ear was whispering I‘d better keep my mouth shut.
Because of my insecurities, I worried to expose myself. Seem dumb. Afraid to be wrong in the end. And then look stupid.
Some people are thinking now:
” Well, I don’t have that vast knowledge to guide a buyer.”
I would challenge that
I mean does your boss - if you have one - peers and colleagues find that as well?
And if you say: “Yes.”
Then I’m not sure what to tell you.
But most people will say:
“No! I’m knowledgeable in my field!”
Here you go.
Let’s just everyone hear that.
You have KNOWLEDGE.
You’ve got to remember that.
Some people don’t like to share their expertise until they reached the mountain. Become a big-big player in our industry.
In other words, we have a lot to share along this journey, even if we don’t have a solution or answer for everything.
The last thing I say – and I can totally get on a soapbox about this – so I’ll say one more thing and I’ll be done.
Do a little inner work before you share that kind of stuff. You need to look that what you’re putting out there.
Is it going to support or is it going to make buyers think: “Uh, I don’t know if this is the right person for me.”
If you start to involve more let you feel a little awkward at the beginning, that’s okay.
You’ll know when you’ve gone too far.
In that case, just pull it back a little.
The ONE THING you have a monopoly on
Buyers like no-nonsense people who tell it like it is.
It’s so effective.
Because it makes buyers want to work with you even more.
And stick with you.
They get connected to you.
Now they are really listening.
For the reason that you’re not some robot. You are not some producing machine. But a human being bringing all you have for the sake of making this business a success.
Your knowledge can be an extremely valuable resource for your buyers.
Wait, it can even be THE ONLY REASON to work with you.
That’s the ONE THING you have a monopoly on.
So many people can produce and sell the same thing that you do. But when people value the whole package – your products and YOU - then you have the ultimate edge.
Are you ready to give your buyers what they want? More of YOU!
The questions to help you fully (& finally) discover your own uniqueness in your business. If nothing more from this post, you get some self-awareness. Let’s help if you are struggling with this to find your sweet spot. For some people, it’s not as easy as for others. I like to help people who are struggling. If you want to hone in on it - I created a worksheet for you.
I’ve provided 27 specific questions to guide your conversation with yourself. It’s all in the worksheet ?
Promise me you’ll set aside a few minutes for the assessment questions.
All designed to help you discover what is most unique and special about your personality. Just do a little self-assessment. This will pay off tenfold. Self-awareness is a valuable thing. Therefore, download it here you find a collection of questions that can become an easy conversation starter with yourself.
So, as a result, you have your buyers saying:
"I have to work with them, that’s exactly the person I want to cooperate with.”
So that’s where we are going with all of this.
Long post today. Thanks for sticking around to the end.
Before I close - let me take this back to you:
What is your opinion about this topic?
Please share in the comment section or just send an email to Heike@smartgarmentexporter.com.
Love to hear from you.
P.S. Download your Discover your uniqueness assessment to have your buyers saying: "I love to work with this guy!"
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Your blogs & templates helped me a lot in last few years to establish a better relationship with my customers.
Thank you so much Saiful, so happy to hear this! Thanks for being around so long, appreciate it! - Heike