I once told our sales team to try selling signs without saying the word “sign.” You can imagine the looks I got in return. After all, we were a sign company.
At the time I had just been made the new company president. To the sales people, they understood their primary objective as selling signs. To me, I had another vision and version of the professional service they provided to our customers—to be sellers of impressions, not just sellers of signs.
I know many people in sign sales who have done extraordinarily well in their careers by simply staying committed and focused on selling a sign or landing a relationship with an entity that needs a lot of signs without having to complicate the process by introducing more concepts or expanded services. This formula seems to work best for those in the national accounts or those providing specific wholesale sign products.
Our sign shop, however, was like many of yours—operating primarily within a regional sandbox the size of a 90-mile radius by producing a variety of signs and graphics. We were not in the business of national accounts, though we were able to attract and service the right ones that fit our capabilities. The best source of fuel for our business engine came from local and regional projects.
That same fuel was also fueling a growing number of competing sign companies.
Because of that, I challenged our salespeople to sell impressions while selling signs in order to stand out and widen the range of projects we could engage in. By doing this, we could grow and become a brand that stands out from the other branders. I knew it could work from my own personal experience. Like them, I started out in sales.
Before I was made president, I joined the sign company straight out of college with my design degree. My first job was to help with design and sales. I didn't know a thing about signs. But I did have some experience in commercial construction from my high school and college job with a general contractor.
The way I saw my job was to merge art and construction together in order to provide a branding solution for the customer. Notice I didn't ever say the words "sell" or "sign." When I looked around our sign shop, I saw an ability to provide visual products that in turn would produce or make positive impressions through signage, printed graphics, displays and custom three dimensional production and ornamental fabricated structures.
My perspective was different from the other salespeople at the time. They thought in terms of signs. I thought in terms of branding. Is one right and one wrong? Absolutely not. But I outsold the other salespeople in my first year where some of them already had more than 10 years of sign sales experience. What made the difference, I believe, was the personal sales motto I adopted and was implementing; More Than Just Signs.
That motto opened up conversations and expanded possibilities. It allowed me the opportunity to sell facade enhancements and freestanding canopy structures as well as the signs to be placed onto them. It allowed me into the front end of the entire exhibit or display conversation rather than just receive an order for some graphics at the end. It provided the bang I needed to boost my sales. BAM! is how I did it.
BAM! is what I call the trilogy of branding, advertising and marketing. When executed correctly, they can create a very big impact and contribute immediately to your goals. BAM! has the power to boost or change the course of business depending on your goals. BAM! works best when you know your goals, and it is aligned with them.
As the new company president, I wanted our salespeople to have the same success with their sales and for the company to experience exciting growth through interesting and energetic projects. So, based on the success I had experienced in the past, I began to work with our salespeople on my challenge to sell impressions, not just signs. It was time for me to teach them about the power of BAM! to put the bang in their sales.
My goal for our sales force was to have them tap into the branding needs of our clients as well as ensure us as being their one and only sign provider. To better align our salespeople with the goal, and to help our customers understand, we crafted a new corporate tag line; More Than Signs, We Build Impressions.
"Building impressions" became our two-word summary statement to express our purpose and mission, then the name given to a new and separate division of the company dedicated to custom architectural fabrication.
From there, with a corporate and customer focus on building impressions, we simply went to work to provide creative visual brand and image solutions that build impressions. Notice that we didn't need to use the word "signs" even though sign making was still at our core. Also, in our case, it was included in the name of our business.
And you know what happened? BAM! It worked. In a short time, we doubled the size of our operation and were selling signs as well as impressions through building accents, features, facades, canopies, awnings, window treatments, interior decorations and even sculpture. It was music to my ears when customers would call for a "building impression" rather than just a sign. Most often, the project would involve a sign anyway.
BAM! also works when it is focused on your customer when selling to them. In fact, it takes the selling out and allows the process to do the selling for you by uncovering the customer's wants, needs and goals—the elements you want to know in order to bring them creative branding, advertising, and marketing solutions that your company can provide.
Good salespeople don't just sell, even though selling is precisely the primary purpose and mission of the job. A good salesperson should do and accomplish much more, especially when he or she is the face of the business and has the vast share of the customer interactions.
Because of that, salespeople are in a good position to sell more over time than the one-time sign or wait for the customer to determine when they want to buy again. And BAM! is one way to try making a bang in your sales.